“the ventures,” music link to japan

Classic lineup of the Ventures in Japan in 196...

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The Issaquah Press, a local newspaper, carried another “small story” with ties to Japan. This one has a unique twist. It tells of an American rock band from the 60s era that has had an enduring love affair with the people of Japan. “The Ventures, unlike perhaps any foreign musicians before enraptured Japan in the early 1960s and have remained popular in the decades since.” Member Don Wilson makes his home here on the eastside in the Sammamish Plateau. Japan’s largest public TV network requested that the musician extend a message of encouragement to the inhabitants of the island nation who continue to revere Wilson and the other band members.

Hawaii Five-O (1969)

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If you’ve no idea who The Ventures are, like yours truly, think the musical theme to Jack Lord’s “Hawaii Five-O,” and surf-rock anthems like “Pipeline” and “Walk, Don’t Run.”  Or other great numbers like “House of the Rising Sun” and “Tequila.” While their sound may have resonated sunny, southern California, the band originated here in Tacoma, Washington. Wilson’s home shelters “a Fort Knox of framed gold records,” the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame statuette bestowed upon the group in March 2008, and a medal from Japanese Emperor Akihito. The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette, has been conferred on only a handful of foreigners. In June of last year The Ventures were honored with the decoration at the Japanese consulate in Seattle, and were cited for having contributed to the “development and enrichment” of the country’s music culture, as well as “fostering ‘cordial relations’ between Japan and the United States.”

An instrumental rock band, The Ventures reshaped Japan’s pop music scene. They succeeded in part because there was no language barrier to overcome.  Scoring 20 no. 1 hits, the group also outsold the Beatles for a time, “in the electric-guitar crazed nation.” But in the days before screaming audiences, the band encountered audiences unlike those in the U.S. “You could drop a pin and you could hear it–while we’re playing …After we played, it was an eruption of applause.” According to Wilson’s son, Tim, “Japanese fans ’embraced The Ventures like no other.’ ” 

“The band continues to tour in Japan each year, and usually sells out a 3,000-person venue in devastated Sendai. …’The band played in the city almost every year for the past half-century.’ ” according to Wilson. Having played in Japan last summer, they planned to return at the same time this year. Those plans are now on hold. In the meantime The Ventures will do a benefit concert here in the U.S. to assist disaster-relief efforts.

“I’ve been doing a lot of praying for those people,” Don Wilson said. “But, actually, those people are pretty resilient, amazingly so. They’re very compassionate to each other. You know how organized they were after the disaster, lining up for food and water and things like that.”

“It’s such a cliche to say, ‘Hang in there. You just have to get through it.’ And I’m sure they will,” he said. “I’ve never seen harder-working people in my life.” 

and here for your listening pleasure………………………………………..and mine

brings back great memories of island life………………………………..hugmamma.

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a “human” cougar

 

Kami-Daigo in Kyoto, Japan

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Events in Japan have put me in a thoughtful mood of late. Decided to lift my own spirits, and perhaps yours, by reprinting the story of Nashi, an elder statesman, who recently passed away. A long-time resident of a local zoo, he seemed to be viewed as one of them, by his human caretakers. Needless to say they mourned him as they would a member of their families. The following tribute ran in today’s local newspaper.

100 px

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The community is invited to Cougar Mountain Zoo to honor the life of Nashi, a cougar transplanted from the woods of Minnesota to the zoo more than 17 years ago.

Nashi died from old age Feb 24. Though he had been showing signs of slowing down for the past several months, the loss was still devastating to staff, volunteers and zoo visitors. Cougar Mountain Zoo General Curator Robyn Barfoot said.

“He was a fantastic cougar. He had a lot of spunk in him,” she said. “He enjoyed talking with the visitors every day.”

The Nashi Memorial Celebration will be at March 26 at the zoo. Instead of holding its traditional cougar lecture, the zoo will open the stage for people to talk about Nashi. Staff members who raised and worked with him will talk about his life.

Cougar“I used to joke around that he’s a rock star, because he is,” Barfoot said. At the zoo, Nashi would model for product labels, television shows and nature documentaries. “He actually sat in the mayor’s chair when he was a cub,” she said. “He definitely made the rounds and left a mark on many people.”

Volunteers and zoo visitors are also encouraged to share their Nashi stories, talking about how he made them feel when he chirped or purred in their presence.

“His purrs were really unique,” Barfoot said. “He had a low guttural purr and he would stick his tongue out. If you got a purr from Nashi, your day was pretty darn perfect.”

A Blackfoot indian on horseback

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Nashi came to the zoo as a cub after he was found orphaned in Minnesota. His full name, Nashidoita, is Blackfoot Indian for Spirit of the Mountains.

“He was a great cat and everyone who worked at the zoo had a relationship with him, not just the people who worked directly with him,” Barfoot said.

My family and I were fortunate to watch Nashi prowl the confines of his Cougar Mountain Zoo hideaway. He looked every bit the master of all he surveyed. And obviously he was.

hugs for cats…big and small…wild and not-so-wild…hugmamma.

good samaritan #9, a neighborhood of “angels”

The Issaquah Press, our local newspaper, ran an article of an unusually touching “good Samaritan” event. Most of us who live in middle class suburbia probably feel the same way that Angie Allen did when she moved to the Issaquah Highlands. Her children, 4 and 2, “made friends, but in ‘suburbia you kind of just pull into your garage and you politely wave at your neighbors…You might have a talk or conversation here or there.’ ” Tragic circumstances, however, saw a change of heart, so much so that when she moved away to live with relatives, she said ” ‘I almost wish I had stayed there,’…”

Travis Allen had brought his family to the Pacific Northwest because of a job with a concierge medicine company in July 2009. After Halloween he got a bad case of strep throat for which he visited a doctor’s office, and then went home to rest. He didn’t wake up. Concerned neighbors watched as the ambulance lingered for some time.

Mrs. Allen asked neighbor Paul Stephen to look after her children while she spoke with paramedics. Neighbors and a friend of Angie’s congregated at the Stephen’s home. The Allens’ children were understandably stressed, trying to grasp the situation. The adults certainly did their best to calm them, Stephen saying ” ‘You’re realizing that the kids just lost their father and the long-term impact of that…’ ” As a result, the community came together in “an outpouring of support” for the family.

Stephen’s wife and Angie’s friend remained with her through the night, as did another neighbor. And still another picked Angie’s parents up from the airport, while others walked the family pet and prepared meals for them. Deciding it would be best to return to Texas to be with her own family, Angie had to pack up her house, in addition to making funeral arrangements. Unable to sort through and box her husband’s belongings, she allowed the neighbors to help with the difficult task. When Angie returned to Texas to bury her husband, the community she left behind donated boxes and tape, packed the Allen’s household furnishings, and secured a moving company to transport everything. Neighbors also bought Christmas presents for the children so Angie wouldn’t have to deal with holiday shopping. Neighbors who, by chance, happened to be visiting in Texas, babysat the Stephen children during the funeral so that the 21-gun salute to their dad, who’d served in the Air Force, wouldnt frighten them.

Angie returned to Issaquah, inviting about 20 neighbors into her home. She shared the eulogy she’d read at Travis’ funeral. Everyone shed tears, neighbors, now friends, calling Angie a strong woman, and she, in turn, calling them her angels. ” ‘Any cynicism I had evaporated. The outpouring of help and generosity, I was overwhelmed by it. I never expected it…We’ve got to know each other so much better in the midst of this tragedy. They gave me hope and showed me compassion. They really just lifted me up. I just couldn’t have done it without them.’ ”

for a “miracle on 24th avenue”… huge hugs and a blessed christmas for Angie’s family…and their neighborhood of angels…hugmamma.