Monday, November 28, 2005


Meeo B Ward, awesome antlered reader and friend to antlereds everywhere, wrote this the other day about the passing away of Pat Morita: noriyuki pat morita 1932-2005 noriyuki pat morita died from on thursday. i heard about this while i was slurping down a large bowl of noodles at my favorite diner and watching the tv with the sound off. a strange feeling came over me. they showed the standard clips from the karate kid movies and i thought that maybe i could add just a little more for you guys: at the age of 2, pat contracted spinal tuberculosis and was severelly ill for the following 9 years. most of this time was spent in body casts and it was believed that he would never have use of his legs. he was determined to walk and eventually did so at the age of 11. this was at the time when pearl harbor was attacked and he along with 100,000 asian americans ( mostly japanese) were forced to live in internment camps. he was escorted by an fbi agent, from the children's hospital to the nearest camps where he was to meet up with the rest of his family. morita often spoke about the pain of bigotry up to his final years and was a lifelong supporter of japanese american ww2 soldiers who fought for the us. these troops were known as the purple heart battallion, very few survived. morita spoke on behalf of these veterans that are nearly forgotten, many of them dead. morita was the narrator of "beyond barbed wire" (it will make you cry!), a documentary on these infantries. many do not remember the story of "mr. myagi's past", but morita drew upon his experiences in the internment camps, and those of his veteran friends and incorporated thee events into shaping the role of "mr. miyagi". the story goes that morita addressed the director over the absurdity of the mr.miyagi drunken stupor scene in 'karate kid', due to the fact that there was no content to the scene. morita pressured the director into letting him develop mr miyagi as a ww2 veteran, whose wife and child died in the camps while he was fighting the war. when i think about it, i didnt know then what was going on. i wonder if anyone else remembers that? can we all start saying "go for broke" instead of "wax on wax off"? ha ahh...but i digress... after his release he went to school and started a career with an aerospace firm. he left this work at 30, tired of his office life and its effects on his health; to become a comedian. while working the comedy clubs, he took on the nick name "the hip nip" (this completely freaks me out) and developed a friendship with red foxx who helped him push his acting career further by appearing on 'sanford and son' and 'happy days'. i think that it is hard to look at the roles that he played back then, without feeling a cringe from some derogatory stereotype roles that he had to fill. At the time, he was the only asian-american actor working regularly and filling a diverse amount of roles: landlord, business owner, cop, cab driver, sensei, grill cook, etc.; both in film and on tv. i thought he was great. when i look back on it all now, i'd say he was ....revolutionary; and i say this because he CAME OUT and QUESTIONED the us government's mishandling of japanese detainees and soldiers who fought and died in WW2. he QUESTIONED the "pledge of allegiance" and the defninition of "nationality". throughout his career he was a type of symbol to some of us. he survived some serious shit, yet had that incredible laugh that came from somewhere really deep. how this guy moved on to become a comedian, i cant fucking imagine. it's the type of transcendence that is moving. he was a bad ass mother fucker. love you guys, meeo


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