An interactive and taboo-free journalism based in Japan

Welcome to TokyoFreePress Friday, March 24 2017 @ 05:01 AM JST

Who couldn't sleep a wink that night?

Frank Sinatra

   I couldn't sleep a wink last night
   because we had that silly fight
   I thought my heart would break
   the whole night through
   I knew that you'd be sorry,
   and I'm sorry, too

      From a song Frank Sinatra sang several weeks before he actually
      had a sleepless night over how to cheat the conscription doctor.

Only with a few exceptions, my most recent post got good reviews locally including the one from Mr. Hiroaki Koide himself. The scientist and anti-nuclear power activist didn't seem to fully agree with me, but I refrained from further argument because I thought it would be counterproductive to point out to someone who doesn't specialize in neuroscience that his view of man's aging was unscientific.

Especially heartening to me was the offline feedback from Lara, Chen Tien-shi (photo.)

In the postscript of the piece, I'd written to the effect that if we want our society to go on evolving, we should hand down to our children and grandchildren un-sanitized, unstandardized accounts in first-person singular of how each of us lived out our part of history.

In response, Lara sent me a pleasant mail scattered with smile-inducing pictograms. She wrote:

"I also enjoyed discussing the issue with mature people like you. (*^_^*) In recent years I've found myself going through a transformation from a researcher and activist to an educator. Maybe that's simply because I've been a faculty member of the university for a couple of years by now. Or I may have learned my limitations as a researcher and activist. f^_^;."

It seems we are exactly on the same page now despite the fact that we are almost two generations apart.

In her 2005 book titled Stateless, she talked about how precisely the 1972 normalization of Sino-Japanese relations, which coincided with the breakup of the relations between the Republic of China and Japan, affected her own life, and immediate family's.

The most impressive among many other episodes is the one in which the author, then a guest researcher at Harvard, experienced in 1998 when she sent an application to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. After a 4-hour bus ride from Boston to Manhattan, she was shocked because the interviewer at the UNHCR flatly turned it down just because the applicant didn't have a nationality at that time.

From the way she depicted the traumatic episode without ideologizing it too much, it's evident that she had fully internalized the fallout of the series of geopolitical events of the 1970s.

I don't believe that with her unparalleled talent, the up-and-coming anthropologist can have hit her limit so soon. She has just reached another turning point in the ceaseless process toward a higher level of maturity as an individual human being. I'm also inclined to attribute her growth to her experience as a mother.

On the contrary, self-styled historians and the truth-seeking conspiracy maniacs in the U.S. didn't like my post for an obvious reason. Like sufferers of obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, they invariably talk nonstop about history as if it were something undo-able or redoable by doing so.

In fact, history can hand down itself to the future without the help from those who are caught in pathological fixation to the past.

As to the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, one American gentleman wrote to us:

"I understand how resentful you are about the nuclear blasts at the end of the war. Indeed there might have been an easier way to handle the problems at the time. I can tell you also that things were very bad for our people at the time. We were very afraid that we would all be enslaved or murdered if we lost the war."

Of course "we" are not resentful about the blasts which was ordered by Harry S. Truman in a total departure from the textbook tactic of decapitation - or any other thing the United States did to our country. But his revealing story about America's seven-decade-old paranoia somehow reminded me of a 1943 song: "I couldn't sleep a wink last night."

Because of, rather than despite its cheap sentimentalism, I used to love this ballad. What made it even more impressive was the fact that Frank Sinatra sang it a cappella. Were the studio musicians all too busy getting prepared for the possible invasion of the Japanese troops?

That wasn't the case, of course. I still remember hearing a disc jockey of an FEN program called "Big Band Countdown" explaining the reason: they were on strike for a pay raise when Sinatra was crooning the lovely tune. No one in his right mind didn't believe he might be "enslaved or murdered" as the physically- and perhaps mentally-disabled president FDR may have propagated.

I still didn't know Sinatra actually had a sleepless night or two over how to get classified "4-F" (unfit for service) by the conscription doctor several weeks after he recorded that song. Although you can't sing the way he sang it in November 1943 (watch the video embedded at the bottom of this post) if your eardrum is perforated, that was found to be the case the day he showed up at the conscription office in December.

Many people hate Sinatra; they say he was an egomaniac, a sex addict and had a close Mafia connection. But actually they hate him because he was honest even when he cheated the inscription doctor. I still think Sinatra was one of the most remarkable American individuals of the 20th century because the guy fully lived it out in the days just before nation's overripe culture was about to start irreversibly decomposing.

Now let's stop substituting someone else's history for our own. Instead we should intensively talk about sleepless nights we have actually experienced in our lifetime without letting our self-censorship mechanism fabricate or sanitize them too much.


Story Options


Trackback URL for this entry:

No trackback comments for this entry.
Who couldn't sleep a wink that night? | 4 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Who couldn't sleep a wink that night?
Authored by: samwidge on Tuesday, April 28 2015 @ 10:26 AM JST

You said, "Many people hate Sinatra; they say he was an egomaniac, a sex addict and had a close Mafia connection."

I had never heard that Mr. Sinatra was a "sex addict." Medical and psychiatric professionals do not claim that this is possible. They do claim that some people have a high "libido" or need. In other cases, a busy sex-life is the result of opportunity. As a famous person who had a vast supply of groupies he certainly would have received many offers from attractive ladies. He was the Elvis of his era.

The Sinatra ego certainly would have been disturbing to anyone. For me, the interesting part of this is that his ego is a strong part of what made him rich. He presumed that people should kow tow to him and, therefore, they did. There were many fine singers at the time but Sinatra forced people to pay attention by being one who acted as though he deserved adulation.

He used chutzpah, daring and a facade of omnipotence. Sinatra had a mafia attitude.

In terms of nation-management, I find it fascinating to realize that the people who rise to power are exclusively those who also have big egos.

In your writing you often allude to this by revealing your own impressions of leaders as crooks.

If ego and gang-type operation do indeed give leaders power, and I think that this is correct, then how would you change this for Japan and the world? How would you bend people to vote for capability rather than fame and the power that derives from it?

What would you teach citizens to care about? How would you adjust media to pose talent as the thing of greatest value?

Would you make this adjustment to society by changing laws or by lecturing like a religious leader?
Who couldn't sleep a wink that night?
Authored by: Y.Yamamoto on Tuesday, April 28 2015 @ 05:14 PM JST

It's very funny that you always hear what I did NOT say.

I just wrote people who hate Sinatra always say he's an egomaniac as if it were a problem by itself. But now you are talking about how I would teach people to change their voting behavior as if I were a "religious leader," and to advocate a new legislation to prohibit them from voting for an egomaniac.

Such a distortion was way beyond my comprehension. But now it has started dawning on me that you may be practicing the guerrilla tactic you have learned from the Vietcong to prevent it from rusting from several decades of disuse, or you are just making fun of me.

The only thing I "alluded" to in this post is: "Let's talk about our own sleepless nights, rather than FDR's paranoia."

Anyhow thanks a lot for taking your precious time.

Who couldn't sleep a wink that night?
Authored by: samwidge on Tuesday, April 28 2015 @ 11:19 PM JST
Mr. Yamamoto,

You and I are old men trying to communicate across a large ocean and two complex languages. It is reasonable that each of us will occasionally fail to be well understood.

In this most recent case I was using the model of Frank Sinatra's strange mechanism for success to wonder aloud if the same techniques could be used to secure more readers for you.

This would not be a bad thing inasmuch as you really do encourage people to think for themselves. Nobody does it better than you. You certainly have the needed intelligence. You simply lack the Sinatra pushiness. You lack his chutzpah.

I meant to remind that leaders reach their audiences with special ways of teaching. They "Pontificate" as though their ideas are super important, far more important than the ideas of others. In your case I believe that your ideas are genuinely more important than the ideas of others.

In my response, I ignored "Let's talk about our own sleepless nights, rather than FDR's paranoia" because the concept was clear and easily understood. Nobody could disagree or augment what you said. I am more interested in finding a way for you to gather more readers.

I enthuse for you. If I were there in Japan with you I would gather people to march with a big sign, "Tokyo Free Press" to march for you. Then I would write news pegs for you to get international attention. I would work to see that you are occasionally mentioned in major international publications like Yahoo News, CNN, Pajama media, Forbes and Reuters.

Unfortunately, I am a poor old man and cannot do these things well.
Who couldn't sleep a wink that night?
Authored by: Y.Yamamoto on Wednesday, April 29 2015 @ 08:08 AM JST

My first word of thanks goes to your clarification. The problem is that I know the more one tries to clarify himself, the more he obscures things because his self-censorship mechanism is now in high gear. I'm not a Freudian but I'm sure the first word one utters expresses himself most honestly.

My second word of thanks is also an obligatory thing. Or a little worse than that. I've never dreamed of getting plugged by Yahoo News, CNN, Pajama media, Forbes and Reuters. It would be the worst insult because as I said once again in this Sinatra piece, my only concern is how to break the self-censorship mechanism of my small audience.

I pondered for a while and said to myself: "Still there are some backlog topics that remain to be released or even written before I go. But it won't make any sense to go on discussing even more complex issues such as "the devastating consequences of the protracted drought of disruptive technologies."

Now I have decided the title of the next post. It's going to be something like "The myth about the feminine mystique." I feel I couldn't have lasted this long if I hadn't encountered these unassimilable ladies. I owe them exactly the same amount these guys owe me.

If you tell me your thought beforehand, that will help me a lot. .