Sunday, February 24, 2008

explaining the Diasporan(san)

Now there are some former Pittsburgh residents who are repopulating South Dakota. See 3rd from last para in this story in the Johnstown Tribune Democrat. But I digress.

I cryptically put up this link last week. But it told the story of former Pitt computer science graduate Jerome White who is now considered the first Black enka singer in Japan. Don't ask me, but you can watch him on Japanese TV thanks to YouTube. You can read more on Jerome, also called Kurofune by the Japanese. Kurofune means Black ship and references Commodore Matthew Perry who compelled the 'opening up' Japan in 1854.

As of two weeks ago he now has his own wikipedia page. I'm sure his Japanese fans would love some early history that Pittsburghers could provide.

For more local history. He actually graduated from Perry High school which is more ironic than most realize. If you follow local city league sports you know that the Perry High School athletes compete as the 'Commodores'. You could be forgiven if you think that references Commodore Oliver H. Perry who was the victor in the Battle of Lake Erie in the War of 1812. Yet you would be wrong, they were originally named for his brother who is the other Commodore Perry who may now forever be known for his singing.

and in case you wonder.. I didn't research any of that. Long ago a Japanese friend and colleague explained the whole Perry High school moniker to me. I may be odd in that I retained that factoid in my head, but I don't think the original reference is even known at the school anymore. I would sometimes quiz relatives who attended Perry if they knew who their mascot was, but rarely got an answer.

I wonder how many native born Pittsburghers are fluent in Japanese? I still think the best education reform that could happen to promote economic growth would be to bring in a Chinese language teacher for every school in the region.

update from Reuters: Jerome looks to be quite the hit.

more updates: and more with picture in Steelers garb.

and more from the USA TODAY

and a video interview via Reuters


Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks, Chris! Yay Perry HS!!

Monday, February 25, 2008 11:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

indeed, thanks for posting. this made my week!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008 8:30:00 AM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

then without any right to do so I appoint both of you his local agents, he clearly deserves some local buzz.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008 9:25:00 AM  
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