18 August 2008

[liff] I'm Stuck In A Pagoda With Tricia (sic) Toyota


Kevin and Pril, in the discusson threads having to do with my recent paean to NBC News Overnight, picked up on a reference I was able to dig out and pointed me in an unexpected direction.

On the YouTube clip with the first part of Overnight's inaugural, we got a look at a quick promo for NBC 4's news team, and saw that one of them was a lady who was referred to as (to the uninitiated) "Tricia Toyota". I remembered her from NBC News Updates. What I remembered the most was the unusual spelling of her first name: Tritia, not Tricia. It's also not every day you actually see a person of obviously-Asian descent with the same name as a popular imported automobile.

Tritia Toyota (born Letritia Miyake, which explains the variant spelling on the first name but we still cannot figure out why she decided on the last name) was born in Portland, which was really the thing that got me going on this tangent; another Portland kid run off to the bright lights and did good. Her photogenic good looks and poised style stood her in good stead; she had a long and successful history in LA TV news.

And she did her part in inspiring artists to write songs dedicated to her, even though they may be decidedly silly. Round about 1980, the historic SoCal punk band The Dickies did a song, with the first name predictably misspelt: "I'm Stuck in A Pagoda With Tricia Toyota":

I came home one night tuned my T.V. in
my favorite show was about to begin
as I was scanning across the dial
I saw her read the news with delectable style
Then I was sure that within a while

I was Stuck
Stuck in a pagoda
with Tricia Toyota
I'm Stuck
We were watching Abe Vigoda
then every thing will be fine

Later that night we went for a drive
and I can say I never felt more alive
taking in the sights of old Tokyo
with Tricia by my side and money to blow
I knew then I never wanted to let her go




Always in a daze Always in a dream
Always find that things are not what they seem
A little Asian Goddess came from up above
I thank you NBC for sending my love
And Tricia is the one I've been dreaming of


You can buy this from iTunes. I did. That's $0.99 in the pursuit of the strange and silly. You're welcome, everyone. I do and do and do for you people! I mean, do you see there how they worked in Abe Vigoda? Brilliance!

But as far as the pulchritudinous Ms. Toyota went, she cut herself quite a dignified figure. This post, linked from Epicanthus.net, paints an wholly admirable picture, culminating thusly:

You don’t hear much about Toyota anymore. She adroitly avoids the spotlight. But for those of you who wonder, after leaving the news biz, Toyota, now 61, earned a Ph.D. in anthropology at UCLA where she is a featured lecturer in anthropology, Asian American Studies and the media. She is also a force in alumni affairs and an advocate for human rights and Asian Pacific American causes. Toyota is married to politically influential Riviera Country Club CEO Michael R. Yamaki and lives in Brentwood.

Often dismissed as Asian eye candy although she had evolved into arguably one the market’s best non-scripted on-air talents, Toyota once rued that many of her fellow anchors refused to recognize her as an equal. Turns out the Portland-born Japanese American stood head and shoulders above her colleagues all along.

It notably points out that she was the only LA colleague who stood up at the death of legendary 'caster John Shubeck (one of the first millionaire 'casters, and one of the few to anchor for all three networks in a major market). Shubeck, who had died more-or-less forgotten, was penniless: Toyota paid for his funeral and bid him tribute on her own broadcast.

Toyotas do have a reputation for quality, so we maybe shouldn't be surprised that she accorded herself with such class over the years.

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Kevin Allman said...

I well remember "Stuck in a Pagoda With Tritia Toyota," as well as the Dickies' other big classics: "Manny Moe and Jack" and the theme from the Banana Splits show.

They actually got L.A. radio play.

Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis said...

I never hear The Dickies before now, but I did read up on them. Words like "seminal" are used to describe them.

Never got out to us in the boonies, though.

pril said...

even weirder about the name change, the guy who founded the Toyota company... his last name was spelled Toyoda.

And hey, I would have sent ya the Dickies song.

Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis said...

Pril: quite right, I remember that bit of trivia now. Apparently the name "Toyota" was preferred by a pivotal family member (who married-in, and was therefore not as sentimentally-attached) who preferred the sound with the two t's, and was, when rendered in katakana, visually simpler and was numerically more well-starred (it took eight strokes to do, which is a luckier number). This apparently all became important because at the time the company was going to a new logo which was the three katakana characters in a circle.

That goes back quite a ways. about 1936, if memory serves.

And with respect to the song; sorry, my mistake there. I'll remember to check with you next time, seriously. Thanks for the reminder.