December 28, 2011
This one is all about Asian connections.
It began at Bellaken Garden, a skilled nursing care facility in East Oakland, where my mother, Connie, has been staying since August. I’ve been visiting there twice a week, crossing the Bay Bridge from San Francisco and popping in with potstickers from a nearby takeout restaurant.
For months, I’d seen this thin, white-haired woman seated in the lobby area, across from one of the dining rooms. After a while, we’d exchange smiles and hellos. I’d noticed her mainly because she always had a transistor radio with her. Being a radio columnist and occasional DJ, I asked what she was listening to. “Baseball,” she said. She was an avid San Francisco Giants fan, kept notes on their games, and kept their radio schedule close to her, all on a shelf of her walker. Her son, Jonathan, I would learn, works as a concessions cashier for both the Giants and the 49ers, so she was a football fan, too. We could talk.
I decided to do a little shout-out to her in my Radio Waves column in the San Francisco Chronicle, learned her name – June Kwei – and told her to watch for the mention. She appeared delighted, although I never properly introduced myself. Bad manners. (In Cantonese, “bad” is pronounced “kwei.”) Anyway, on December 11, the item ran, ending with “Holiday cheers to June Kwei.”
That evening, I received an email from a “Dede.” It was Mrs. Kwei’s daughter. I couldn’t believe it. Here’s most of what she wrote:
What a delight to see the mention of my mom, June Kwei, in your column today. I just wanted to let you know that we are huge fans of yours, and have been faithfully following you in print and radio, since the ‘70s!
About two weeks ago, my mom called to say that "I am going to be in the paper." This event in itself was amazing, since being the typical Chinese mom, she only calls me after...
By Ben Fong-Torres
It’s short shrift time.
I have a life that’s ripe (and slightly wrinkled) for blogs and tweeting; for facebooking and updating.
I’m just no good at it. My last column here on AsianConnections was about the memorial in late July for my sister Shirley. My last posting on the authors’ site, Redroom, was about a radio promo tour I did (20 stops, all on the phone in my home office) for my Eagles book. On my own home page, the last thing was about hanging with Johnny Depp at UC Berkley – in mid-October.
Pathetic. But hey, when you’re busy having a life, it’s not easy stopping and writing about it -- although hundreds of thousands of people apparently do. I hear Steve Martin is an inveterate Tweeter, and he’s kind of a busy guy. But I can’t do it. Backstage with Depp, I realized that it was the perfect time to post on Twitter: “We’re about to go on stage; students are screaming already”—something like that. But Johnny and director Bruce Robinson were chatting; one must pay attention. So, no tweets from this twit.
Bottom line: It’s time to catch up, and, with apologies, to give the following events & incidents short shrift.
SANTANA: On Oct. 21, four days after the on-stager with Depp, about his movie, The Rum Diary, at Cal, I was at Mission High School, where Carlos Santana was a student in the late Sixties, soon after arriving from the streets of Tijuana, where he learned about music and life. That, he once told me, was his high school. But, at Mission High, joined by members of his band and special guests, including the great Edward James Olmos (whose stint as one of the villains on Dexter had just begun), Santana and Olmos imparted words of wisdom and inspiration to the assembled student body. Carlos advised that they find their passion. “We talk about jobs,” he said. “I never worked a day in my life, because I love what I do.” He jammed with...