Tuscaloosa (助ける) Tornado (竜巻). Back to Front Page, Sept 3, ’11.

Today the University of Alabama’s 2011 Football Season starts (in just a few minutes, in fact).  The students are back and the fans and media have descended on Tuscaloosa.  I posted this piece (below) the day after a deadly tornado, which struck on April 27.  Hang in there, Tuscaloosa.  Roll Tide.

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The word in Japanese looks like this: 助ける   It’s pronounced ”Tah・s’kay・ru”  It means “Help,” or “Rescue,” or “To give relief.”  Please see this article from The Tuscaloosa NewsMy little story below.  Of course many thousand variations on my story could be told by fellow alums. . .  Note Disaster Relief Information —  how you can help  — below.

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I began my study of Japanese, Japan’s history, Japan’s business and politics, Japan’s culture and arts in Tuscaloosa, starting with my freshman year at the University of Alabama.  My sophomore year roommate, Kazuhiro, from Nagoya, taught me how to use chopsticks.  When I was a college senior, I was hired by the University’s English Language Institute to shepherd around a group of visiting students from Chiba University.  That was in the ’80s.  A few of those students remain my friends to this day.  As does Kazuhiro.

Tuscaloosa — and an exchange program between the University of Alabama and Kansai Gaidai (Kansai International Languages University) — was the conduit by and through which I first traveled to and lived in Japan.

I lived in Tuscaloosa when I worked as Assistant Director of Production Planning at JVC Disc America Company, a subsidiary/affiliate of Victor Company of Japan.

I went to and graduated from law school in Tuscaloosa, and it was from Tuscaloosa that I once again left for Japan, this time through the JET Program.

I practiced law in Tuscaloosa.  I served on the Tuscaloosa Sister Cities Commission (Japanese Sister City:  Narashino).  I introduced many Japanese guests and friends to football in Tuscaloosa.  Roll Tide.  I and my former wife lived in Tuscaloosa, in a little craftsman-style home in the Audubon neighborhood, right off of University Boulevard.

UPDATE:  Photo from May 2, 2011 . . .

Along University Blvd, Alberta City (part of Tuscaloosa). May 2, 2011

I saw Bob Dylan, ZZ Top, X, and more great bar bands than I can name or count (Lucky and the Hot Dice, and Henri’s Notions, come to mind) in Tuscaloosa.  In this blog, right up there at the top of the page, you can see a tab for “Reggae a la Kyoto.”  In that piece I compare the wonderful Rub a Dub reggae bar in Kyoto to Egan’s, a convivial little watering hole in Tuscaloosa.  Check it out.

A couple of my stories (you can see them by clicking the “Read the Stories” tab atop this page), notably “Etsuko” and “Auction” have Tuscaloosa woven into them.

Japan Sends Tornado Relief Supplies to Alabama

When I wound up as a student at the University of Alabama my father was happy, as that was his alma mater.  When I was just in 8th or 9th grade I made my first trip to Tuscaloosa — my dad took me there one autumn weekend to watch the Crimson Tide play (and whip) Mississippi State.

I made more than a few late-night runs to the Krispy Kreme doughnut shop in Tuscaloosa.  The Krispy Kreme’s gone now.  It and many other stores, restaurants, buildings were wiped out by a tornado yesterday.  A friend in Tuscaloosa posted a message on Facebook quoting his brother:  “[The Japanese restaurant] Hokkaido is gone as though it never existed.”

And, more than all, many people were killed, others injured, lives thrown into turmoil.  So I’m sad for a town which has given me so much.  I hope you’ll consider joining me in giving something (back to) Tuscaloosa through either this relief fundI’ve taken down the Red Cross 800 number, as it will not earmark for Alabama.  I can’t get through to a local chapter, yet, but as soon as I do I will post the number &/or will update with other relief effort options for Alabama.   UPDATE:  This  Hands On-United Way Link is a good way to go.  UPDATE II:  Here, through the University of Alabama-Birmingham Benevolent Fund, you can directly to tornado relief:  UAB  Tornado Relief  –  Note:  the UAB Fund assists faculty, staff and students of the University of Alabama-Birmingham who have emergency needs resulting from the tornadoes that hit our state.  UPDATE III:   City of Tuscaloosa’s official Disaster Relief Fund.

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PLEASE WATCH THIS VIDEO, TOO, shot from Coleman ColiseumThe building in the foreground (on the back side of the parking lot) is the Law School, where I spent three years of my life.

Here’s the link to the latest Associated Press story (excerpts):

Dozens of tornadoes ripped through the South, flattening homes and businesses and killing at least 215 people in six states in the deadliest outbreak in nearly 40 years.

Some of the worst damage was in Tuscaloosa, a city of more than 83,000 that is home to the University of Alabama. Neighborhoods there were leveled by a massive tornado . . .

Back from an aerial tour Thursday morning, Tuscaloosa Mayor Walter Maddox said the tornado tore a streak as many as 4 miles long and a half-mile wide of “utter destruction.” There are at least 36 people dead in the city’s police jurisdiction, and searches continue for the missing.

“We have neighborhoods that have been basically removed from the map,” he said.

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Week of May 23, 2011, Sports Illustrated cover . . .

Sports Illustrated Cover. Week of May 23.

University of Alabama. Tuscaloosa. Nov 2007.

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Tuscaloosa. Forest Lake at Hargrove. May 2, 2011

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Tuscaloosa. Alberta. May 2, 2011.

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At the Hackberry/Hargrove Bend, 1-2 mi from Bryant-Denny Stadium. May 2, 2011.

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  1. Everyone seems numb today. 😦

      • letsjapan
      • April 28th, 2011

      You said it, friend.

  2. Thanks for sharing ways people can help our friends and neighbors in Tuscaloosa.

      • letsjapan
      • April 28th, 2011

      Thanks, Wade. I hope to add to this over the coming days.

      It’s going to be mid-next week before I can get down, roll up my sleeves and do, well, whatever I’m asked to do. I’m on the MCAC board and committed to work all weekend, then must go out of town Monday and Tuesday.

      R.

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