Saturday, July 22, 2006

On a warm summer evening...

Thursday, July 20th. At the Japanese-American National Museum. I came down to Little Tokyo for the Central Avenue Sounds Concert Series on the plaza at First and Central.

The sun is about to set soon. The musicians will be on the elevated section of the courtyard next to the new museum building. Behind me is the historic building, originally a Buddhist temple. A brisk breeze offers an alternative to the heat of the last few weeks.

As the musicians warm up, the seats are a quarter full. Only a couple of people are not Japanese-American at first -- with the exception of the bartenders ands the museum employees. Kip Fulbeck's "Part Asian - 100% Hapa" is the exhibition at the museum. More people come out of the museum as it gets closer to the start of the concert. But will it start on "Hawaiian" time or "mainland" time? (Hawaiian time, as it turns out, not that anyone minds)

The Haruo Ishihara Okinawan Folk Ensemble were a sort of Japanese bluegrass -
accompanied by bongo

Moana, the Hawaiian trio was quite animated and informal, engaging the audience and belying that they were "senior citizens."

Few performances have the dramatic intensity of taiko drums, and the Zenshuji Taiko, a local group, were real showmen.

A number of students were present, along with their families and only a few non-locals, if any. It was definitely a great evening to be out and enjoying the richness of the diversity of city life. One would think the streets would have been filled with tourists, but it's a Thursday evening. Tomorrow night, and especially as it gets closer to Nisei Week, the street will be jammed. Tonight I have it almost all to myself.

The neon lights of historic Little Tokyo's First Street and the recently restored Far East Cafe seemed to have soaked in the taiko and hissed and crackled a faint echo of the concert as I walk along the street.

The new Caltrans building was lit like a giant architectural model. City Hall seemed to have received the best scrubbing that I can ever remember - it was as clean as if it were newly built. Coming up Weller Court/Onizuka Street it was brilliantly lit, better than any Hollywood special effects.

I'll definitely have to come back at night to take some photos while summer lasts.

I managed to go 36 hours without watching the news or listening to the radio. This was the apex, when the world seemed devoid of troubles and strife. Of course, it didn't last.
At least I know it is possible to escape what's going on in the world for a while...

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