Early this morning I was in the meeting room at work, watching sections of my library checked-out "Powaqqatsi" videotape on the big television there, to see it in color (since my only option at home is a green monochrome monitor). Then I worked out at the military gym, and after roasting in the sauna I drove north.
First stop was in Belmont, for fish tacos at a place called "T & B" (this from a testimonial on ba.food). They were delicious - the restaurant's decor is a curious mix of Mexican and Hawaiian. Mostly Mexican, but what's with the big map of Lanai island? Then on up to Burlingame, to check out the Copenhagen Bakery. Having been to Denmark, I know they make the best pastries - crusty/flaky, not mushy like so many one finds in this country (especially the ones called "Danish"). Therefore I'm ever-questing for authenticity, and bakeries with names that evoke Scandinavia are always worth inspecting - this one passes, I'll be back. It's a large place, blended with a "Double Rainbow" ice cream parlor, which are common up here in Northern California.
Drove north further still, up to the City and then on to the Bay Bridge. But I didn't go to Oakland - instead I took the turnoff midway at Yerba Buena island, eventually winding up at the adjacent Treasure Island, a place many San Franciscans see but few visit. It was the site of the 1939 Golden Gate International Exhibition, the other World's Fair held that year. I believe some of the buildings I saw were left over from that event, but it's a Naval Station now and access is restricted (Its days as such are limited, however.) Until October there's a special exhibit which is open to the public: it's all about Japanese atrocities in World War II. Just before I began this journal I was enlightening (or depressing) myself about the 1937 Rape of Nanking - here I saw bits of the film John Magee <1> made of that event - he was an American missionary who helped maintain the International Safety Zone inside Nanking. (Allegedly his film was screened by Hitler, for entertainment.) Since my Nanking knowledge was pretty fresh, I focused instead on the big picture <2> and the medical horrors - at the notorious Unit 731, deep in occupied China, Japanese doctors did vivasections and all manner of cruel testing on prisoner-subjects whom they called "maruda", meaning "logs of wood". For example, they bred bubonic plague-carrying fleas there for use in germ bombs. Very grim stuff. The groups running this show are working against the current Japanese and western establishments, trying to raise awareness on this "forgotten holocaust" of the war, even as contemporary revisionists are playing it down.
On the way back I had dinner at the Menlo Park "Gombei", a Japanese restaurant with another branch down in the San Jose Japantown. They call themselves "open kitchen", because they're similar to an American diner-style coffee shop (not the poetry-reading, espresso and mismatched furniture type, but like Big Boy or Denny's before they were remodeled). Behind the counter the busy chefs prepare everything in plain sight. I had the #1 special, salmon and salmon eggs over rice with fried stuffed tofu. I like this place because it's fast and a good deal, lots of food (usually too much) for a good price. And the staff is friendly, unlike their savage military relations sixty years ago.
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<1> His son, a pilot who died during the war,
wrote the poem President
Reagan quoted the evening the Challenger exploded.
<2> In a mildew-smelling room I watched
many video episodes of a Sino-Japanese War mini-series called "The Great Wall
of Flesh and Blood". Much fuzzy black & white battle footage, showing oddly
archaic Japanese tanks and filed pieces (which were still quite devastating
to the peasantry they were used against) plus at one point, during the war
crimes trials, the
Last Emperor spoke about who was really in charge when he was the puppet
figurehead of Manchukuo.