Friday, March 2, 2012

Musings on 1st Street and Community Identity

The ceramic art gallery on First Street in Little Tokyo had a nice run, but it turned out to be a very short one. A few months ago I noticed that it was closed and that yet another Japanese-cartoon-themed shop opened in its place. It's especially disappointing because there are already so many shops like this in the neighborhood, and they feel more like something for a tourist-audience rather than a part of community culture. But, ah well. Business is business. I wonder what businesses could open in Little Tokyo that would seem like an expression or continuation of the neighborhood's history.

For me, Little Tokyo has been the site of building a pan-Asian American community through my involvement with Tuesday Night Project. And now there's The Flying Pig and The Spice Table bringing more pan-Asian dining to the area. I wonder where the neighborhood is headed, and what this means for the Japanese American community in Los Angeles. Kizuna is an organization that is invested in just that-- "Uniting Nikkei for the Future." As a Khmer American who is not involved in any Khmer American organizations, I wonder what it is like to have so much history in this country and the foundation (or weight?) of a closely knit community. But perhaps a Khmer American community is forming (like at Khmerican?) and I'm just not with it. The questions I always come back to are how do I get with it and do I want/need to get with it? That I talk/think/write about it often is some indication that I need to investigate it a bit more.

Tonight: Three Year Swim Club at East West Players, an pan-Asian American institution in the neighborhood for 13 years and counting.

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