Monday, January 09, 2006


Research... you gotta love it. In dealing with a subject where people have been dead for 30 years, where archival materials that existed before the dawn of digital have turned or are turning to dust, where information you need was deemed not important or had a low priority and was/is being destroyed presents some serious problems. It means one has to resort to some creative techniques to access the public's personal archives. Some people treasure old photos, some don't. When elderly people die, if there are no family members about lots of information that could hold research value to people like me could be, will be, is being, lost.

The 1965 Gladiolus Festival, site of the 3rd World Karate Tournament, where Dante/Keehan did his PT Barnum thing once again with a Quickdraw expert, a wild western guntotin' kind of guy. I have been told Dante beat him. But there are no pictures, no film footage, nothing but the cover of the program book.

I called the Kankakee Daily-Journal and the entertainment editor John Stewart hooked me up with this article you see here attached to the page. I got 3 calls the day the article ran. People with direct knowledge of and contact with Dante. Not many pictures, no film footage at all. All I can do is go back down there, talk to my subjects, hope something really good will be unearthed in the in the sifting for data.

Part of what makes it seem easy for me to do this research, I guess, is because I was there and took part in a little of the scene. People remember me as a silent observer at least. Everyone tells me I look familiar. I was in a few tourneys, but not anything special. I think I just went to get the feel of it.

After the coming of Bruce Lee on the Green Hornet, some of us got lessons from watching Gung-Fu Movies at the McVickers Theater in downtown Chicago. Before Bruce Lee's films there was 5 Fingers of Death, that fine-ass Angela Mao Ying, Sonny Chiba kicking booty all over the screen. I always remember that killer jump kick of Sonny's, but I forget the name of the film. I got lesson where and when I could, backyards, and basements, Lawson Y, Grant Park for Tai Chi.

On Saturdays there was Japanese Cinema at Francis Parker auditorium, it was run by Omar Kaihutsu, an insurance salesman. I feel in love with the craft of cinema watching Japanese movies. Watching Woman of the Dunes, and Zatoichi, Kwaidan, Sword of Doom. Lessons in action and composition. Really intense stuff for me at 14 years old. Lots of the martial arts crew, the serious folks, hooked up at Francis Parker auditorium for Japanese cinema.

By the time I was interested in competing I also was interested in photography and film, sort of. I started spending time in the darkroom. I left the country in 1974 and read about the death of Dante while I was in England or somewhere. I am not even sure. Maybe I found out after I came home in 1976, the first time.

He was dead, I was sorry about it, curious, but did not think much about it again for years. It takes a lot of distance, sometimes, to get a clear view of a person or thing.

No comments: