Friday, November 6, 2009


The media is all a buzz about Matsui. The Yankees make it back to the World Series Championship and an old Japanese ball player saves the day.

Me, I'm a Mets' fan, as difficult as that can be, I can't work up any excitement about Godzilla. But all the talk brings to mind an old story.

Back in the late 1970's I taught a self contained first grade class in the South Bronx. As the weather got warm, we took advantage of the free subway passes and left the dank devastation of "Fort Apache" as frequently as we could. (See the Bronx is Burning the tv special on the Yankees of that era for more description of the South Bronx at is nadir).

One late spring day, we boarded the Staten Island Ferry, a free way to cruise New York Harbor and get a close up look of the Statue of Liberty. As we enjoyed the view on the outdoor deck, we noticed (and were noticed) by a group of Japanese tourists.

"Chinas," (pronounced Cheen-nahs) Edgar proclaimed loudly, using the Spanish word for Chinese.

The tourist looked at us.

"No, Japanese," one man with an enormous camera- answered back

Edgar looked at me, "Chinese?" he tried again in English

"No, Japanese," Camera Man corrected again.

Edgar was puzzled, he tried several more times, to ask the tourists if they were Chinese and each time Camera Man responded -"Japanese."

Edgar stood silently, considering the response, and I wondered how to get out this.
And then a light bulb went off in Edgar's head.

"Oh- Japanese- I get it! Godzilla!"

So somewhere in Japan there is a 30 year old photo album filled with pictures of a group of Japanese tourists, ten Hispanic six year olds from the Bronx and me, with the Statue of Liberty in the background.

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