Dr. Drew's Infrequent Blog

Part 1: March 2005

Thursday, 31 March 2005

I just finished reading Jeffrey Lesser's collection, Searching for Home Abroad: Japanese-Brazilians and Transnationalism (Durham: Duke University Press, 2003). Lesser is an amazing writer and has brought together a fine collection of essays by historians and anthropologists on Brazilian Nikkei, and how they create their identities in Brazil and Japan (since many dekasegi work there). It also includes a short "interlude" by novelist Karen Tei Yamashita.

Ever since Yuji Ichioka's 'Transnationalism issue" of UCLA's Amerasia Journal, this has been a fascinating topic in Nikkei history. It makes for interesting comparisons with the Japanese American experience.

Changing topics, there is very good news about the FEMA funds and the library. Check out the Honolulu Advertiser's article .

I end with a moment of web-silence for poet Robert Creeley, who died yesterday. He was one of the "Black Mountain poets." That literary group included two of my favorite poets, Denise Levertov and Cid Corman (who just passed away last year).



Wednesday, 30 March 2005

May every week be this special! Tonight I was able to enjoy a fine dinner with one of my favorite authors and book activists, Nicholas Basbanes. He and his gracious wife are visiting Hawaii. He will be giving a talk on Monday, 4 April at 7:00 PM on campus to help raise funds for the Hamilton Library. As a thank you, the University treated him to a lovely dinner. University of Hawaii Foundation President Donna Vuchinich, UHM Chancellor Peter Englert, and University Librarian Diane Perushek hosted the Basbanes. My colleague Rebecca Knuth, and Edward Gorey collector, John Carollo, and I were able to join in a wonderful evening of discussion.

Basbanes has been my an inspiration ever since I read A Gentle Madness in Joel Silver's rare book librarianship course at Indiana University's Lilly Library. Basbanes is passionate about books, but is also levelheaded. For an example, check out his good overview of Nicholson Baker's Double Fold. For that matter check out any of his several well-written books. You will not be disappointed!

Tuesday, 29 March 2005

I originally called this an infrequent blog (as I think it is somewhat egotistical to think we do so much that is fascinating for others to read), but today was another interesting day. We had another Congressional visitor on campus. I am not a legislator groupie, although I did volunteer in a US Senator's office back when I was in high school years ago. [Perhaps I will write more on that some other day].

Congressman Neil Abercrombie (pictured above) was one of the dignitaries who spoke at today's official opening of Phase I and II of Hamilton Library. It was a very exciting day. It was wonderful to celebrate the achievements of the UH Library faculty and staff, and everyone on campus who helped make this happen. University Librarian Diane Perushek (pictured above) did a nice job of thanking the many people involved. It was also good to see many of the librarians and archivists from around the state appear. Many did an amazing job of helping our students and the UH librarians to help over the past five months. I was also impressed by Chancellor Peter Englert's comments "for bibliophiles." I wonder if that was the influence of visiting guest speaker (and yes, another hero) Nicholas Basbanes, author of the classic A Gentle Madness. Although computers and the Internet have truly revolutionized libraries, it is important to remember that a good percent of any research library's collection will never be available electronically. This is especially the case here at UH.

One of my students mentioned to a reporter that I was the teacher "with the class stuck in the flood," so a KGMB reporter interviewed me after the opening ceremony. I am happy that they did not air my interview. (I've unintentionally discovered that it is easy not to be included in TV news if you use long sentences in the passive voice and are not emotional). That is a natural for me. I did not really want to talk about the flood again today. Instead, we should celebrate the librarians' achievements in opening the stacks for users (including me!).

I look forward to celebrating the return of the LIS Program on the renovated ground floor. It still looks like an empty warehouse, but there is some progress. It will take 12 to 24 months once a blueprint is approved. Maybe I will even prepare TV soundbytes by then. It is important for me, my colleagues, and our students that we return to that space, where we are connected with our laboratory -- Hamilton Library. We are all very grateful to have so many friends who are supporting our return.


Monday, 28 March 2005

It is not everyday that you can meet someone whom you think of as a hero. Today was one of those rare exceptions. Professor Dennis Ogawa kindly invited me to his graduate American Studies seminar to hear guest speaker United States Senator Daniel K. Inouye. Although I wish the Senator had voted against drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, he truly is an amazing individual who led Hawaii's Democratic Revolution. Despite being one of the major players in Washington, I was pleased that he was so kind as to talk with a small room of students (and afterwards to also sign my copy of his autobiography and pose for the picture above).

As an aside I did not know that he is called the "Rabbi of the Senate," and had even thought of converting to Judaism. I would call him a "mensch."

I was very pleased that he took the time to address Dr. Ogawa's class. I wish that more young people appreciated the struggles that the Nisei endured before, during, and after the war. Senator Inouye's talk emphasized the many differences among the Nisei, such as class, religion, hometown, and kenjin background. I wonder if he read one of my favorite books, Lon Kurashige's Japanese American Celebration and Conflict: A History of Ethnic Identity and Festival, 1934-1990.