You can check out but you can never leave...
NOVEL * PLAY * * ESSAYS * FILM BY MARLAN WARREN
Sunday, November 29, 2009
4 A.M. I'm trying to drive back to SF to pack up my worldly belongings and close up my apartment so I can drive back to L.A. and live, but as soon as I'm out the door, I realize that I am hungry and it's L.A. so where to eat breakfast at this hour? Light dawns. THE PANTRY..
Hadn't been there in five years but my car seemed to remember the way from Echo Park through Downtown streets. I parked the car in the free parking across the street and fairly danced into the warmth and friendly light of this welcoming diner on Figueroa Street.
Tony is still flipping scrambled eggs in his pan. They still come out buttery smooth, perfect for spreading on the thick grilled sourdough toast that is Trademark Pantry. For less than six bucks, I had a satisfying breakfast of a single scrambled egg, potatoes and toast. Alas, they hadn't yet "made" the salsa.
Even more satisfying was the fact that Tony remembered me. Saying hello as if it was only yesterday. "Long time, no see."
A word to the Wise...tip Tony. He deserves it. And next time, you'll have your eggs or pancakes before you've sipped your coffee.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
MAYOR EATS AT AI
Here's the Mayor of South Pasadena, David Sifuentes at the Ai Japanese Restaurant lunchtime sushi bar a couple weeks ago. His unscheduled appearance came minutes after owner Amy had shown me a photo of him declaring "AI JAPANESE RESTAURANT DAY."
Ai is quietly celebrating its 40th Anniversary this year. Too quietly for my taste. I'd prefer balloons, doorprizes, waitstaff singing the "Hallelujah Chorus" and giving free sushi to every 100th customer.
Two weeks ago, I crawled to Ai from a sickbed where I'd lain with a respiratory virus that attacked the day I moved back to L.A. (Oct. 31) and still hasn't gone away (it's been a month now). I was sitting al fresco at a lovely table in calming weather, eating healing miso soup and chicken terriyaki when the front door of Ai swung open and owner Amy jumped out crying, "I was so worried about you! Did you move here?"
Between coughs and persistent laryngitis, I assured her that I did. She ducked back inside and came back out with the picture of co-owner Fumito and Amy with the Mayor, holding the citation. She was so thrilled and proud. After 40 years of humbly working like hell in South Pasadena...official recognition.
After lunch, I went inside to pay and Amy whispered to me, "THE MAYOR IS HERE. LOOK!"
I looked and asked if I could take a picture. "Oh, I don't know," she said. I asked if it would be all right if I asked. It's my wont to take photos of anyone and anything without asking. Bad habit that Fumito has been trying to correct lately (by yelling a lot).
So I asked and Mayor Sifuentes agreed. And here's the photo to remember the moment that honored Ai so deeply. More power to them!
Saturday, November 7, 2009
(L) Marlan Warren (C) Yuri Kochiyama (R) Ruth Ishizaki
Photo by Victoria Yang:
PACIFIC CITIZEN CELEBRATES YURI KOCHIYAMA AND HER CRUSADERS
The Pacific Citizen came out with the story about Yuri Kochiyama's Crusaders and "Bits of Paradise" play and movie earlier than I was expecting -- posting it on their website before it shows up in print in mid-Nov.
Reporter Nalea J. Ko did an amazing job of sifting through hundreds of facts and coming up with a succinct angle for the story: THAT THESE WOMEN DESERVE RECOGNITION FOR THEIR WAR EFFORT.
Thank you, Nalea, PacificCitizen editors, and Bill Honda (for suggesting this story about the Cruaders). I hope this story will encourage more vets and Crusaders to participate in the making of the film.
Here's the link: Pacific Citizen Story
Monday, November 2, 2009
Pacific Citizen to Feature Yuri Kochiyama's Crusaders and "Bits of Paradise"
File this under ONE BIG STEP FOR MY DOCUMENTARY AND PLAY ABOUT YURI KOCHIYAMA. My 2nd day back in L.A., I was interviewed by a reporter from The Pacific Citizen, the major Asian newspaper about Bits of Paradise because they're doing a feature story on The Crusaders, the letter-writing campaign led by human rights activist Yuri Kochiyama when she was a 20-year old internee at Camp Jerome.
The article should come out around Nov. 18 in a special "World War II Vet" issue. I'm delighted that the paper will honor these remarkable women who never gave up hope while imprisoned behind the barbed wire of their own U.S. government and who boosted the morale of their young fighting men with upbeat, sometimes flirty letters and circulars until the war ended.
For more info on the progress of the documentary, please check out http://sites.google.com/site/bitsofparadisethemovie/home
In a nutshell, doc production has stalled due to lack of funds. Our hopes for a CCLPEP grant earlier this year, combined with the fact that filmmaking costs money, even if the crew is working for free, put the project on hold about 5 mos. ago.
Good-Bye, Yellow Brick Road
OK, the image below is NOT me on the cellphone. It's my San Francisco neighbor on our mutual "balcony" on the day I was moving out.
Pushed by the promise of a job in L.A. and the fact that my rent on my rent-controlled apartment was jumping up $800, I drove back to San Francisco to close out my apartment and say good-bye.
This wonderful neighbor had hardly spoken to me in over a year due to a misunderstanding but we patched up our friendship months before I decided to escape San Franciso, and ended up sharing "quality time." She came to my rescue and kept this from being a Solo Effort.
Since August '09, I've been persona non grata. No income. No job. No home. Staying with friends in L.A., depending on their kindness as I tried to figure out the next chapter. It boiled down to a single question: "If you have no money left, why would you want to live?"
I found the answer to be "Live from the Heart and the rest will follow. Allow yourself to savor friendship, love, and give what you can with love and friendship. Life is not a do-it-yourself project" (as Barbara Sher said in her Wishcraft book).
She and her husband gave me their cellphone numbers for "emergencies" and made me promise to call. Her husband came up while I was packing and said, "Everybody here is a better person for having known you."
Worth a million.