Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Whale Wars, Japanese Sashimi, China Traders And Barking With Bob Barker
by Winsip Custer CPW News Service
When Milton Eisenhower, General Dwight D. Eisenhower's brother, was appointed to head the Japanese interment camps in the US during WWII, he was concerned that Samauri swords would be waved in the faces of Californians from a "5th column" of Japanese-Americans. That didn't happen. Instead those swords are often seen today at the Sushi Bars from San Francisco to Manhattan.
According to the Hawaii Seafood Buyers Guide, yellowfin tuna is widely used in sushi bars, often served raw or barely seared. Tuna buyers recognize two grades of tuna "sashimi grade" and "other". In 2010, Greenpeace International added yellowfin tuna, Thunnus Albacares, to its seafood "red list" meaning that it is being harvested in non-sustainable ways, much like the whales which are also being served in sushi bars.
In April 2010, Dennis Romero reported for the Santa Monica City News that whale sashimi turned up at the Santa Monica restaurant called The Hump. He wrote " The restaurant closed last month after it and a sushi chef were charged with serving the endangered meat following undercover dining by a documentary film crew"
Fred Olson from Santa Monica said "I didnt' know it was whale. I knew the meat looked a little funny compared to other cuts of sashimi, but I always like a new adventure and didn't want to miss anything in spite of the hefty price."
A typical dinner of sushi in Southern California for four can run four or five times the cost of American or other ethnic cuisuine leading Mr. Olson to remark "Yea, those Samauri warriors didn't get us one way, but they sure got us in another," he said pointing to the large and small Samauri swords over the sushi bar where we met.
Olson, whose father sailed aboard the USS Panay, an American gun ship that was actually fired upon in 1937 during the Japanese invasion of China and the rape of Nanking, instilled some of this adventuresome spirit in his son. Before the Japanese attack on China the Panay protected US interests along the Yangtze River...Rockefeller oil production from the region and the "China Trade" which everyone knew was a synonym for opium," he said.
"The Mao Revolution expelled the Americans for supporting the China Trade. We even used the threat of a Japanese invasion to protect our legitimate and illigitimate interests there. As a counter balance to the Japanese we could carry out gunboat diplomacy along the Yangtze River prior to Japan's all out invasion. We felt that it was higher moral ground to sell them opium and kill 'em little by little than to charge them with bayonets, so we were the good guys. We even sent them nice missionaries. Meanwhile, back home, Supreme Court Justices like Fred Vinson led the charge for outlawing marijuana, which was really an embargo on hemp rope, which was going to be replaced by synthetic ropes from the oil industry which didn't want the hemp competition and instead favored state-sponsored monopolies. It was a hand in glove procedure. In fact, Illinois Governor, Daniel Walker who clerked for Justice Vinson, was well aware of the China Trade connection. His father sailed on one of the Yangtze River gun boats. Daniel Walker was not only the man who was appointed with Milton Eisenhower to investigate Mayor Richard Daley's handling of the 1968 Democratic National Convention Riots in Chicago, but he went on to form Walker Savings and Loan which received most of its money from Bill Clinton's friend from Arkansas, Daniel Lasater, whose Mena, Arkansas Iran-Contra connections have leaked out like honey from a beehive slapped by a bear paw. Bill Clinton's brother, Roger, was Lasater's chaffeur . Governor Walker went to jail for three years for his part in the Saving and Loan scandal which included close ties to Neil Bush, brother of George Walker Bush. But who better to call the Irishman mayor of Chicago, Richard Daley, a renegade leader of a police riot, than Dan Walker? When Daniel Walker was released and retired to San Diego, he then moved to Baja and became a writer for English speaking newspaper there. I was sure that he was an ancestor of the Baja filibusterer, William Walker, but who knows? Maybe he just liked it better there than in Illinois or Texas where he grew up."
Olson recommended that I watch the American film, The Sand Pebbles, for an overview of this period. "But don't look for the opium," he said. "It isn't there, but it's there. Cleanliness is often next to ungodliness. Hiding it. I don't know if the Chinese are whale eaters, but they eat dogs and I'm not happy about that, but do you see them shutting down a restaurant for that? I understand that they are partial to smaller breeds because they fit nicely on the rotisserie," said Olson. "It could be worse. They could be like Queequeg, the friend of Ishamel on the Pequod in Melville's Moby Dick, who was in a 12 step program for human liver addiction." There's the real China Trading Sushi connection," said Olson. "That sashimi grade great white whale? He was both a whale and, metaphorically speaking, the white powdered opium of the China traders, many of whom were friends with Mr. Melville and whose ships did double-duty, then rolled their profits over into other forms of transportation like rail roads, oil and weapons. Melville outta' know," said Olson as he ate a piece of raw yellow fin, but looked at the photo of the plate of whale flesh with what could have been interpreted as a faint longing.