All men are created equal

 

My concern about the events of this past weekend is it is only the beginning of something that this country must face. It some point in the future, there will be more non-whites than whites. More non-Christians than Christians. More non-Europeans than Europeans.
The behavior of the whites against the non-whites, the Christians against the non-Christians, and the Europeans against the non-Europeans, is deplorable.
f_la_kkk_rally_170708.nbcnews-ux-1080-600Some say turnabout is fair play. Perhaps it is. Perhaps that’s why these groups on the right, no matter what they’re called, are acting out their fear and anger. Maybe they should.
I believe all the lessons of the past will come to haunt this nation, if not doom it. It won’t be the end of a political or economic system that dooms this nation. It will be the failure of recognizing the truth in “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
All men. Life and liberty.
It’s not the “I deserve mine” that will doom the nation, but denying the other person the right to justifiably say as well, “I deserve mine” as well, and then working to make both declarations work.
The fear of losing what one has is greater than the anger at seeing what another gains. Fear propels the fearful whites, the fearful Christians, the fearful citizens of European descent.
So how do we take the fear away?

(Image, NBC News)

Joe Brewer is a journalist, author, parent, and veteran. He has worked at publications in Japan, Canada, and the United States. Brave New Deadline is a continuation of a newspaper column created in 1992. Email him at joe@josephmarkbrewer.com 

You’re not American. You’re a Nazi.

Unite the Right. Klan rally. Protest of a civic decision to remove the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

Call it what you want. The ‘Unite the Right’ rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday, August 12, resulted in death, arrests, worldwide condemnation, counter-protests, and an ever-growing image of how ugly America has become. The far right,  the Ku Klux Klan, the defenders of the memory of the Confederacy, White Supremacists, all have found a home in the fetid atmosphere produced by the election of the 45th president.

Former KKK and Nazi leader David Duke said the Charlottesville protests were about ‘fulfilling the promises of Trump.’

‘”This represents a turning point for the people of this country,” Duke said of the Charlottesville rally. “We are determined to take our country back, we’re going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump, and that’s what we believed in, that’s why we voted for Donald Trump, because he said he’s going to take our country back and that’s what we gotta do.’

Take back the country. Make no mistake, that’s the mission of the White Nationalists, the Klan, the American Nazi.

There have been other protests, other demonstrations, with the purpose of defending the memory of the confederacy, defending the Confederate flag, some demanding that their Southern heritage be respected. An Anglo-Saxon Protestant heritage. A state’s rights heritage. A Jim Crow heritage.

Charlottesville was different. Not because the anti-Klan counter-protesters outnumbered the ‘Unite the Right’ group. Not because there were violent confrontations, tear gas, and arrests in demonstrations that lasted over two days. Not because public officials were once again forced to step up to microphones to condemn and demand justice.

It was different because of this:

charlottesville1

And this

Charlottesville2

And this

Charlottesville4

and, ultimately, this

Charlottesville5

Klansmen assembled, with helmets and shields. Wielding Nazi salutes. Swastikas and Stars and Bars icons on display. A protest that spawned violence. And ultimately, a man reported to by a Nazi sympathizer, drove his car into the anti-Klan crowd, killing Heather Heyer, who was among the demonstrators protesting the white nationalists’ rally.

This is a turning point in the struggle against anti-American White Nationalism. There can be no mistaking that these white supremacists, whether they’re in the Klan or in Nazi garb, Confederate sympathizers or secessionists, stand for nothing that America was founded on. Nothing that the Constitution proclaims as rights and freedoms of the common person. Nothing that a free society cherishes for all its people. Their beliefs and goals and creeds and dogmas belong more to Mein Kampf than the Constitution. Thier leaders would be welcomed by Hitler. So let’s be clear: The people in helmets and shields and swastikas and hooded robes and stars and bars are Nazis. And they have lost the right to call themselves Americans. One world war was fought to destroy that evil. Everything Nazis stood for was crushed. It cannot be allowed to rise again.

Joe Brewer is a journalist, author, parent, and veteran. He has worked at publications in Japan, Canada, and the United States. Brave New Deadline is a continuation of a newspaper column created in 1992. Email him at joe@josephmarkbrewer.com 

(Photos credited)

I Hate You

I’m returning to the origins of Brave New Deadline. It was a regular column I wrote for a weekly newspaper way back in the day. I had shifted gears somewhat, having focused on writing fiction for the last eight years, but the eternal struggle in my writing life – nonfiction vs fiction – never seems to settle. I still work in journalist, I still write fiction.

My other blog, josephmarkbrewer.wordpress.com, is where you’ll find posts from the writing world. Here at bravenewdeadline, I’m ending my sabbatical, and my silence, on current events. At least for the time being.

trumpclinton

courtesy NBC news

In discussing this election year with my friend Jack Donaghy, I held out trying to describe it. The paint-by-numbers answers, the “Tastes great! Less filling!” chorus whenever Trump’s and Clinton’s names are mentioned, the woeful lack of civility – I really didn’t know what to say, much less write.

But it’s clear to me that this election is a harbinger. It has nothing to do with the Obama legacy. It has to do with a nation and its political process and the voters who participate it creating a new way of voicing their politics.

It’s the politics of hate.

I trace it to the first Clinton Administration and the vituperations hurled at the first lady, Hillary Clinton. The Lee Atwater legion joined forces with bareknuckles Arkansas political brawlers and the GOP, then licking their wounds after the sound Bush defeat and smarting from another election where it found itself the minority in the House of Representatives, flat out put a bull’s eye on Mrs. Clinton and said ‘fire away.’ This was 1993. Within two years, the Contract with American gained the House for the Republicans and Roger Ailes created Fox News in order to control the emerging reality of the 24-hour news cycle. Hate television was born. The Clintons were the targets. It’s become the norm.

The Obamas took the place of the Clintons for the last eight years, but with Mrs. Clinton’s hard-won success in securing the Democratic nomination, hate has followed her every step of the way.

What’s insidious about hate is it is almost never ground in facts or truth. Just not liking the cut of one’s jib has become a justification for hate.

The festering “I hate Hillary” disease is the what fuels the engine of the Trump campaign. At the presidential debate on Sunday in St. Louis, it became clear that even the gross cad that Trump is cannot help himself. His hatred was evident in these words: I’ll put her in jail.

Trump supporter cheered. Hillary haters blew up Twitter.

Worse has been said about Mrs. Clinton by Trump and others, but really, what rhetoric is left to abuse?  Trump supporters don’t even necessarily like the man, they just hate Clinton.

I hate you.

That is what 25 years of faux news hate has led to. And we’re stuck with it.

 

New directions in blogging

Over the past few months, I’ve taken a sabbatical from writing and blogging. My world was turned upside down as it were when a career lifeline was thrown my way.

newspapersI have been a journalist my entire working life – the part that starts after quitting college and part-time jobs. I enlisted in the Navy as a journalist, learned reporting and editing and photography and public affairs, and spent five years telling the Navy’s story. Then I graduated from the University of Kansas with a degree in journalism. From that time on, I’ve worked for a variety of publications, and exclusively for newspapers since 1996.

Up until this past January, I worked at a newspaper that imploded due to strife between its publisher and the staff and a once-good newspaper is now a pokey little publication treated as an afterthought by the owners. I was watching my career die as a part of that news team.

But that ended with a new job in a new state with a company that read the tea leaves of today’s media economic realities and developed a plan to remain viable.

I’m back from sabbatical. One of the things I decided to do was split my journalism and my fiction writing into two blogs. So if you come to visit to know more about my Shig Sato mystery series, I have some blogs saved on here, but all the news stuff is at josephmarkbrewer.wordpress.com. That’s where the mysteries, flash fiction, and trials and travails of being an indie authorpreneur will reside.

Once upon a time I wrote a column for a newspaper called Brave New Deadline. I’m once again taking up that job: comments, criticism, essays, or whatever comes to mind.

My good friend Jim refers to me as a newsman and a mystery writer. May I live up to both honorable monikers.

 

The World of Shig Sato: Food in Japan

A reader discovering the world of Shig Sato will soon learn that food becomes in interesting side character – Miki’s breakfast of miso soup and rice, Abe’s early life growing up in a ramen shop, Ses Fujimori’s love of okonomiyaki, Shig’s lunchtime katsudon, even Mos Hishida’s nickname, a result of his steady diet of Japanese-style hamburgers. Any reader not familiar with Japanese cuisine might wonder at it all. In truth, the food of Japan is as simple as it is varied.

The simple: fish and rice. But is that really all there is? It doesn’t begin to encompass the world of sushi, much less the whole of Japanese cuisine. The popular Japan Talk website lists 100 types of sushi. Notice that fish, vegetables, eggs, meat – it’s all included. Sushi, sashimi, makiit can take minutes to prepare, a lifetime to master.sushi

The importance of rice in Japanese culture cannot be overstated. The language uses the word gohan for “meal” as well as “cooked rice.” Gohan is a part of each word signifying breakfast, lunch and supper. In feudal times, wealth was measured how much rice one possessed and peasants were keenly appreciative of a payment in rice for their labor – coins were no good to them when they had to eat. Japan’s propensity for natural disasters, and it’s involvement in war, often led to a scarcity of food. Rice stockpiles were worth fighting for.

As an nation comprised of many islands large and small, a reader would be right in thinking that all types of seafood is a part of the Japanese cuisine, from the common tuna to the exotic –  pufferfish, anyone?

What many Western readers of the Shig Sato series may not realize is that farming – livestock, grain, vegetable, fruit, any combination and variety – can be found in most of the nation’s 47 prefectures. Almost any grocery store or market will have fresh local produce, seasonal fruit, cuts of meat and poultry, and packaged foods like curry mixes and spices. (When my in-laws came to visit from Canada, flour and vanilla were found and donuts were produced in an afternoon!)

One may not think of baked goods when thinking of Japanese cuisine, yet the tasty sweets and snacks appeal to young and old. And it doesn’t take much to find pan – bread – and some have even embraced the staple, when it’s made with rice flour.bakedgoodies

The varied: Being an international city, Tokyo is home to an array of dining experiences any world traveler would appreciate. Michelin stars are not unknown in the city. Gourmets and foodies alike can find were the finest food is served, and also the stores that sell the products for those daring and talented enough to create at home.

Regional specialties abound. I’ll conclude with this list of a prefecture’s favorite dish. See if you don’t recognize some, and have probably eaten some others (and some not!).

Hokkaido – Grilled mutten

Aomori – Sea urchin and abalone

Miyagi – Oysters

Yamagata – Potato stewsweetpotatoes

Fukushima – Pickled herring

Ishikawa – Turnip sushi

Gifu – Potatoes with sweet chestnuts

Nagano – Buckwheat dumplings

Aichi – Deep fried chicken wings

Tochigi – Giyouza (potsticker) dumplings

Chiba – Steamed peanuts

Kanagawa – Curry

Mie – Lobster

Shiga – Duck hot pot

Osaka – Okonomiyaki

Hyogo – Kobe’s famous beer-fed beefkobebeef

Tottori – Snow crab

Tokushima – Buckwheat porridge

Nagasaki – Sasebo burger (thanks to the navy base there)

Kukamoto – Sliced horsemeat

Miyazaki – Kyushu-style fried chicken

Okinawa – Fried pork belly

To get a copy of  The Gangster’s Son click here . To get a copy of  Shig Sato Book 2 The Thief’s Mistake click here — and don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter and enter the World of Shig Sato. 

Diligence is the word

I never could have done what I have done without the habits of punctuality, order and thdiligence, without the determination to concentrate myself on one subject at a time.
– Charles Dickens

Some writers can only write when inspired. Some suffer from writer’s block. Other’s cave in to popular culture or conventional wisdom. So, when they get around to writing words, they write words that are false, sentences that are flat, stories that are dead the moment the final period is placed on the page, then wonder why their their writing isn’t up to scratch. These writers become dejected, and repeat the process again and again. I know I have.

I think this because for writers, even young writers, the enemy is time. We are all guilty in luxuriating in the nonsense that is ‘waiting for inspiration’ or ‘ I need to research this in order to understand the subject’ or ‘when I accomplish ___________ then I can REALLY get down to writing.’

My first notion of writing a story came at 6 years of age. I wrote my first story at  10.  By age 14 I had written, in large print, on white ruled paper, nearly 100 pages of forgettable juvenile nonsense. I knew I had writing deep in my bones, but allowed interests in other things to overwhelm me – I lacked punctuality, order and diligence to keep at writing regularly.

And when I acquired a modicum of those habits, I really had no idea what to do with them, so far as writing went. Because I had no sense of urgency. I still believed I had time on my side. Then I turned 40. Time had slipped through my fingers, and I had nothing to show for my efforts but notebooks and short stories and a life contemplating writing without really doing anything about it. So I set out to write what was in my heart and on my mind. I resolved to be published in my 40s and earn my living from my stories  by the time I was 50.

I’m 58. Things are just now starting to come together.

It’s inevitable that one’s life takes over one’s art, unless one’s art is one’s life. I’m not talking about earning a living, raising a family, or being a productive member of society. It’s making time to write, or paint, or compose, or build, or cook – whatever it is – because, as every athlete or musician or painter or writer knows, it’s all about practice, practice, practice. And that takes habit, punctuality and diligence.

Jeff Goins says writers need to focus on resolve: that a write needs to commit, to develop new habits. I agree.

Still, I think Charles Dickens said it best.

Time to get back to it.

What about you?

To download a copy of my Shig Sato mysteries, click here for  The Gangster’s Son and here for The Thief’s Mistake.

See you soon!

The World of Shig Sato

Do you remember where you were in 1991? Some of you do, of course, and some of you don’t. And one of the great thrills of reading is being taken to a time and place you may never have been: Paris, 1870; Dublin, 1904; Rome, 30 A.D.; A galaxy far far away — stories take us to memorable places with people and creatures that entertain us for hours.

In the Shig Sato Mystery series, the reader enters the world of Tokyo, 1991. A world capital, a center for government, entertainment, industry, diplomacy, a cavalcade of characters from the world over stepped onto the shores of the Land of the Rising Sun. It was a time of Japan Inc., riding an economic boom, the nation making its mark as an industrial leader. A city and a nation with a new emperor, a new vision for the future.

japan_imperial_palace_217304The world of Shig Sato was unique: a long-serving, highly respected police inspector, Sato returned to Azabu Police Station after two years of diplomatic security detail and security assignments for the Imperial Household Agency. Sato’s world was heart of Tokyo – the Imperial Palace, Roppongi, the embassy districts, and Sato knows every inch of it.

Roppongi: served by Sato’s beloved Azabu Police Station, isn’t so different now than it was in 1991. And Sato knew that among many of the foreigners out for a good time in that nightclub district were American servicemen, including some stationed with the U.S. Navy and Marine forces in Yokosuka, 37 miles down the coast. In the Shig Sato mystery The Gangster’s Son, Kimi Yamada’s beloved Cpl. Charlie Parker Jones is a Marine stationed on a American ship at the Navy base.

Sato’s return to Azabu Police station, the murder of Kimi Yamada, and his journey to finding the truth about her killer and himself make The Gangster’s Son “A highly readable murder novel with authentic Japanese flavor and a fresh, intelligent plot,” “Unique,” “Gritty. ”

Next time: Tokyo Inc.

To get a copy of my ebook mystery The Gangster’s Son click here and The Thief’s Mistake click here.  And you’re invited to keep up with the latest Shig news by signing up for my monthly newsletter.  See you soon!

Sato and Abe are called to a murder scene

(An excerpt from The Gangster’s Son, a Shig Sato Mystery)GangSon1400

The police inspector knelt over the dead woman. He gently tilted her young, battered face. Her hair, dusty with debris, fell at odd angles. Sticky crimson blood oozed out her nose, ears, and mouth. One eye stared into the night, and what remained of the other was a swollen bloody mass. He pressed his finger against a plum-colored cheek split open. Some bone was still intact.

As he got up, he noted how her legs were oddly twisted beneath her. The sleeveless silk blouse and short black skirt she wore did not look disturbed. Nothing lay beside her. In the harsh crime scene lights, he thought the girl looked like a broken mannequin, carelessly discarded and alone.

It was a still, humid Tokyo evening, past midnight. Detective Ken Abe watched Inspector Shig Sato. Five minutes had passed since Sato said he wanted to take another look at the body. Abe wondered if his friend had lost his ability to concentrate, with his wife so ill, and this being his first night back in Criminal Investigations after two years of diplomatic security duty.

“Inspector?” Abe believed he hid the concern in his voice.

Sato raised his hand to shade his eyes from the blinding lights.

“Yes?”

Abe pulled a cigarette from his lips.

“So?”

Sato took another long look at the young woman, walked over to Abe, and said, “She was probably surprised, then beaten and left for dead. Probably dropped to the ground where she stood.”

Abe was relieved to see Sato focusing on the crime, putting what he saw into some sense of order.

“You said she’s a waitress at the jazz club?” Sato asked.

“Yep. Right in there,” Abe said, pointing at a neglected brown door. “A jazz club. Called the Down Low.”

There were many scattered anonymous doors along the alley. Some led to long, narrow, dim bars selling grilled chicken and beef on sticks to whet the appetite of the tired businessmen drinking beer after lonely beer. The meat’s lingering aroma, the grease, the alcohol, the sweat of the cooks, all clung to the thick night air. Behind other doors, sushi denizens had watched countermen slice their tuna and eel and octopus, caress their roe and rice, priests preparing their offerings. In tiny cabarets with low and plaintive jukeboxes, hostesses rested their aching feet while night managers quickly counted the evening take after rousting patrons from their drunken stupors.

The inspector saw these doors, once open in the vain hope of catching a midnight breeze, now closed tight against the bad luck that came with a dead body.

“It is too quiet here,” Sato said to himself. He did not like the quiet, not in that part of Tokyo, on the fringe of nightclubs and cabarets and bars and restaurants, that place where two alleys met, where a girl lay dead.

Sato took another look at the dead girl, then turn toward the medical examiner.

“It looks like somebody struck her across the face so hard it snapped her head back against that concrete wall,” the doctor said. A slight, bald, fidgety man, the doctor was truly at ease only when performing an autopsy. He hated making definite statements at crime scenes, but knew Sato needed to hear something. “Blunt force. Caused some type of bleeding in the skull, I’d say. And then maybe something snapped. She slumped to the ground, and that was it.”

Sato looked back at the body, then at the doctor, and paused before asking, “No one moved her, touched her in any way?”

“No!” If it had been anyone other than Sato, the doctor would have been insulted.

“Any signs of resisting? Bruising? Rape?”

“I don’t know.” The doctor hesitated, scratching his ear. “Her underclothes don’t look like they’ve been disturbed, and there’s nothing strange about her thighs or buttocks. I mean, there’s no strange marks or bruises. Like I said, it looks like she just dropped. Some kind of smack in the face, her head hits the wall. Probably burst something in her brain. Anyway, it probably shut down her central nervous system. That’s probably what killed her. We’ll know more later.”

Abe watched as Sato talked to the medical examiner. He watched Sato’s face harden as the doctor gave his assessment.

“She was pretty,” Abe said.

Sato turned to look at the girl once more.

“What was she doing in a dark alley so late at night?” he asked. “What could have happened that would lead to this?”

“This is Roppongi,” Abe said. “She probably liked the excitement. Nightclubs. Music. Lots of strange new people.”

“People.” Sato grunted.

“This club has a lot of foreigners come listen to jazz.”

Sato frowned. “Foreigners.”

“Young girl looking to meet foreigners, maybe have an adventure.”

“Adventure.” Sato shook his head.

“Hey, Tokyo’s booming,” Abe said. “It’s 1991. Things are good. Lots of people come here from all over the world, looking to make money, have a good time.”

“Maybe she had a boyfriend,” Sato said. “Maybe a jealous boyfriend.”

“Maybe a secret admirer,” Abe said.

“Yes, maybe.”

(Read more here.)

Joseph Mark Brewer is author of the Shig Sato Mystery series. You’re invited to visit his web site,  www.josephmarkbrewer.com. You can get your copy of The Gangster’s Son by visiting Amazon at

US  http://tinyurl.com/ov6286h

 
 
 
 

Twilight talk and lightning bugs

My son calls every weekend, usually after supper, when the long afternoon sunlight begins to dim. I sit in my apartment with the lights off, and as we talk, I watch the day turn from light to twilight.summereve

Tonight I asked him about lightning bugs: where there any where he lived? I couldn’t remember  — he is, for another few weeks, living in the town where he grew up. I did not live in that town nearly as long as he. There are many things I don’t remember about the town, or those days.

He said no, there aren’t any lightning bugs. I began talking about the Midwest summer evenings of my youth, being dismissed to the back yard after supper, to run and burn off energy, to get out from underfoot. Those evenings we waited for that moment when, in the thick summer evening air, the sky would light up with the dozens of neon green lights flickering from the insects we gleefully chased. We captured them, put them in jars, or pinched one between our fingers to write out names in the twilight sky. It was a childhood summer evening ritual.

I asked him if there were lightning bugs where he lived, and he said no. I asked if he had ever seen a lightning bug, and he said yes, the summer he was an intern in Washington, DC. Of course, I thought to myself. He would have, there. We talked a little longer, the day became night, and I said goodbye. I watched the twilight dim to darkness. I thought of lightning bugs and childhood, and him.

I know he’ll call next week. Sometime soon he’ll be returning to where I live, and he won’t be calling me on Sunday evenings to check in and see how I am. We’ll see each other nearly every day, and what we talk about will be different. We’ll talk to each other, and it will be good, but it will be a different type of conversation. It won’t be the talk of a son calling a father.

I’m going to miss the phone calls.

(Image from Flickr.com)