Monday, October 10, 2005


My sister came to visit me in 1993. We did a lot of sightseeing, including important stops like having toast at the now closed Ships restaurant, visiting Disneyland and riding the Haunted Mansion ten times in a row, and naturally, a trip to Hollywood Boulevard and Grauman's Chinese Theatre.

As Angelenos know, most of the media and ticket hawkers and surveyers do not want to talk to people who actually live in Los Angeles. So the Japanese reporters who were walking around with pictures of ten or so Japanese men--including one of their Prime Minister--did not want to talk to me once they found out I lived in Los Angeles.

They asked my sister instead which of the men on the page was the Prime Minister? My sister chose, wrongly, and the lady asked why she had chosen that photograph. My sister said something along the lines of "he looks forceful," etc. The lady glanced at me and I smiled and shrugged.

"Do you know?" Asked the reporter politely, but with an undertone that I couldn't possibly know the correct answer.

I nodded, laughing, and pointed to the correct picture without hesitation.

The reporter got very excited and waved the other reporter and the photographer over. They explained to me that they had been out there for hours and no one had been able to correctly identify the Prime Minister of Japan. All three were very interested to hear how I had recognized him?

"I remember him from when our President threw up on him," I responded grimly, trying convey some sense of shame for the bad manners of my President and ignorance of my countrymen.

They laughed so hard the photographer could hardly take my picture. They told me all the details of what newspaper my picture was going to appear in, and how this was going to be quite a highlight and humorous -- "yet kind of sad," my sister interjected, apologetically-- story.

As we left them to go put our hands in Marilyn Monroe's hand prints they were still laughing hysterically and telling the story to curious Japanese tourists that had gathered around them.

Until we left Grauman's groups of Japanese tourists pointed at me and some even took my picture, too. Word travels fast.

And that's how Bush Senior got my picture in a Japanese newspaper.


Rand said...

Funny story!

In a way, it's sad how little most Americans seem to know about the rest of the world. I see it reflected anytime I'm in a music store. There's the usual categories - pop/rock, jazz, country, rap, etc.
And then there's "World" to capture the entire spectrum of other types of music from around the globe.

World Music anybody?

Rand said...

by the way, thanks for your comments the other day...

Swifty said...

If it's any conosolation, I wouldn't have known anyway. But do I care? No, I don't. In fact I'm always pissed at the assumption that it's cool, hip, clever, and even necessary to know trivial details, such as who the world leaders are. If the time comes when Japanese policy has a major deleterious impact on the economy or security of the UK, then perhaps, but only perhaps, will I get to know the politicians involved. Until then, I'm not too interested.

If it should ever occur that Japan become the most powerful nation in the world in terms of economy or cultural influence, then everyone will know who their Prime Minister is. Until then, apart from policaL students and those who take a keen interest in world politics, no one is going to care. And why should they?

Here in the UK, there's a young band who've recently come to the forefront of the publics's attention - Franz Ferdinand. Their debut album was a huge hit, and rightly so in my opinion. I purchased it myself. But ask me me the names of the group members, and I'm stumped. But who cares? Do I have to know? Knowing names, signifies nothing more than knowing names. If you're interested then great, good for you. If not, then that's cool as well, you've probably got a different focus.

So I would urge anyone, not to feel too badly about their ignorance of such things. Are we to believe there are fucking rules now determining our interests? Hardly.

Turtlellini said...

HAAA!!! Don Swift--your point reminds me of this black comedian that I saw on Comedy Central not too long ago.

I can't remember his name, but he was talking about how rude and ignorant of other cultures Americans are. He said not only are we IGNORANT of other world leaders, but that we JUST DONT CARE either! (TRUE!)

He said he had been traveling in some foreign country--and truly felt like it was the NATIVES who were the foreigners.

But then one of the native "foreigners" asked him if he knew who their president was.

He admitted that he did not. So they took that as an invitation to begin telling him until he raised his hand in protest and said, "Uh uh...eht. I ain't need to know dat!"

Like knowing it would take up too much ram in his brain! HAHAHA!!!

Toods~ It's too bad you dont have that newspaper clipping! How cute!

Ron Kane said...

Neat story!