It's been a difficult month for all of us in the Japanese American thespian community. First George Takei (Mr. Sulu), the manliest, but most human of space travelers, came out of the closet (not that there's anything wrong with that). Then Pat Morita (Arnold and Mr. Miyagi) died. To make matters worse one of the Christmas season's biggest movies, Memoirs of a Geisha stars two Chinese actresses playing Japanese characters.
Maybe it only feels like the world has gone wrong. And it probably didn't help my equilibrium any that I saw Paul McCartney in St. Paul and Bob Dylan in London. Somehow that seems a little backwards.
So I may suffer from a vision problem that even a new pair of glasses can't correct.
If life is about, and it seems to increasingly be, about waiting in line, waiting for your chance and praying to somebody or something that your chance will come, then perhaps we can all take a cue from the Swedish. While waiting in line to see Dylan in London I arrived one evening and headed to the end of a fairly long line walking from the front to the back. Not long after I took my place as the very last person a woman walked the path I had just walked but instead of standing behind me, she chose to stand next to the guy in front of me. It was clear she wasn't with him- they didn't make eye contact and didn't say a word to each other.
Later on a group of people showed up and began talking to this woman in a foreign dialect. Turns out they were all from Sweden. It was then I realized that a Swedish line isn't so much vertical as it is horizontal. I may have to try that at Caribou next time I go and get my morning coffee.
Or maybe I'm just plain invisible.
One of my favorite nightly moments in all five London Dylan shows was toward the end when he was introducing the band. As he was telling where each band member was from he doodled on his keyboard. It was like listening to the man compose right in front of you, a small glimpse into how his mind works. His mind is a mystery beyond what even Sherlock Holmes could figure out.
But buck up, they say. News this week gave us all some hope. A French doctor performed the world's first face transplant. I've always wanted a new face and now it's possible. I hear that George Takei's might be available.
Walking around the misty streets of London, somewhere near Scotland Yard, I couldn't believe my own eyes I was where I was at. In my head I could hear Frank Sinatra singing about a foggy day in London Town and then my own personal soundtrack jumped to McCartney singing about ordinary people it's impossible to meet, holding conversations that are always incomplete.
A mere week later I had one whiskey water before the auburn hair pre-grad student and I went to see Derailed where Jennifer Aniston really does a number on Clive Owen. Halfway through the movie I spilled our popcorn all over the floor and the auburn hair pre-grad student looked at me and asked why I did that. I didn't want to admit it but I had nearly passed out. My head started spinning and I broke out into a cold sweat and suddenly the pictures on the big screen got all fuzzy and negative looking at and I just wanted to lay my weary head down. But it all passed. Only there was no more popcorn left. It was all on the ground.
There were no Japanese American actors to be seen on that screen and this time I wasn't acting. I guess if you go all the way around to the other side of the world there are going to be some ill side effects. It only seems natural. But you wanna know the odd thing? I can't wait to go back. I want to hop on the Victoria line going the other direction just to see where it might take me. I want to walk down a street that's brand new even though it's very old. But I have loyalties and I have carved out a certain comfortable place to exist. I hope they will still see me there.