Dehoarding: Asia Scene: The Crimson Kimono

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Asia Scene was mainly for people doing business in Japan, but this included a lot of Japanese Americans; they operated a Los Angeles bureau out of an office on 2nd St. in Little Tokyo that is no longer there (probably wiped out by 1970s redevelopment). They mixed cultural articles in with the business articles, and when Sam Fuller’s Crimson Kimono was going to be released, it was a big deal. The film wasn’t just shot in parts of Little Tokyo, but included many people from the local community. So they wrote an extensive preview/review of the movie.

It’s probably one of the few contemporary articles, because it was a “B” movie, shot on a small budget, in black and white.

 

The context is pretty hard to imagine today, particularly because the Model Minority Myth wipes out actual histories of Asian American communities, replacing them with sanitized histories — and it seems like the community pushes the positive stories. According to this found clipping, there was a crime wave by Nisei in the 1960s.

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I didn’t know about that until I found that clipping.

Likewise, it wasn’t until college when I read about gang problems in the community in the 1960s, and the wave of young people dying from drug overdoses in the late 1960s. I found out about that only because these two events happened as gangsters switched gears and joined the Civil Rights movement, and this information got recorded as history that’s archived in the Ethnic Studies library.

I don’t have a photo of it, but next to my grandparents’ and father’s grave, is a headstone for a young man, Tono, who died in 1959. A ceramic medallion on it shows that he wore a pompadour. He was only 18 years old. I’d seen this headstone all my life, but I didn’t know what happened.

I still don’t know what happened to end his life, but now, knowing some history, I wouldn’t be surprised if he was caught up in the problems of Nisei crime, the gang life, or drugs.

 

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