Japanese Institute of Sawtelle. It's literally a few blocks from the stores in West LA. It's right there, but I haven't gone back at all. I went the as a kid for about 10 years+. I hated it at the time. Recently an old classmate wrote me an email after seeing the Calendar Live article about Sawtelle which mentions Giant Robot, GR2, and gr/eats. It reminded me about going to school there and the taunts, the bullying, the fuckfaces all around, but at the same time, there was the good. I learned to play basketball from the single hoop that sat on the pavement. I'd show up early just to shoot some hoops. We'd play three on three, and I think sometimes five on five on a half court. We'd play football with a tennis ball which was basically a hike and mayhem of running deep and trying to catch the ball. Occasionally a fast kid would run one back and ditch every out stretched hand. Sometimes, I swear I remember each side had maybe 10 kids, some really little and young, some older, and it was a battle. We'd even play until it was dark, and the cheap flood lights would come on. I don't want to make you think this was a football field sized place, this is something like the size of a tennis court!
All that said, this post is only a really short memorable look at a place where I spent years and years of my youth. It was neither great nor terrible, and I did learn some Japanese to get myself out of trouble. Yet I wonder what that place is like these days. One day I'll spend a lot of time and write down the things I remember in more detail about the place and maybe someone will read it and laugh since they're going through the same shit. Maybe another old classmate will turn up out of it.