saturday night at the movies

Just got back from watching Live Free or Die Hard. I thought it was a solid action flick, not quite as good as the previous three, but worthy of being called Die Hard. Indeed, Maggie Q is in this movie, looking good and kicking ass here and there. However, I wasn't particularly thrilled when John McClane call her character an "Asian hooker bitch." Completely unnecessary. That's racist! Also, because Maggie Q is in this movie, I was subjected to watching the idiotoc godawful trailer for Balls of Fury, which she also stars in. I am seriously dreading the release of this movie.

I gotta say though, I was pretty pleased to see Sung Kang, Christina Chang and Cliff Curtis all with fairly significant roles as government agents working behind the scenes in Live Free or Die Hard. The good guys. It was a nice change of pace... for now. But wait. In August, we've got...

War. The other trailer that played before the movie was for War (formerly "Rogue"), starring Jet Li and Jason Statham. Mark words, this movie is going to be a large pile of crap. Seriously, what is it with Jason Statham and the Asian exploitation movies? Transporter, Crank and now this. Puke. The guy needs to lay off. What kind of Asian stereotype would you like? Triads? Yakuza? Massage whores? Swords? Ninjas? Devon Aoki as a blade-wielding Yakuza boss' daughter? This movie's got it all, and it's baaaaaad. At least a whole mess of Asian Canadian dudes got work for a couple of days as Asian thugs. On the upside, Terry Chen and Sung Kang are in the movie with some fairly decent, non-stereotypical roles. The movie opens in theaters on August 24th.


the kids in america

This is awesome. Earlier this week, President Bush was presented with a letter signed by 50 high school seniors in the Presidential Scholars program urging a halt to human rights violations of terror suspects held by the United States: Scholars Urge Bush to Ban Use of Torture. The students were invited to the White House to hear the president speak about his effort to win congressional reauthorization of his "No Child Left Behind" education law. Hooray for that, but the students apparently decided to seize the opportunity to address the issue of torture while they had the President's attention. Japanese American student Mari Oye was the one who physically handed the letter to Bush. Here's some great video of the students being interviewed on CNN: Scholars confront president. The handwritten letter said the students "believe we have a responsibility to voice our convictions." Indeed. I don't know about you, but I'm impressed.

UPDATE: Here's the content of the students' letter to President Bush:
Mr. President.

As members of the presidential scholars class of 2007, we have been told that we represent the best and brightest of our nation. Therefore, we believe we have a responsibility to voice our convictions. We do not want America to represent torture. We urge you to do all in your power to stop violations of the human rights of detainees, to cease illegal renditions and to apply the Geneva Convention to all detainees, including those designated enemy combatants.

And here's a Boston Globe article on Mari Oye: Presidential scholar confronts the president. Some of the other Presidential Scholars apparently weren't pleased with the presentation of the letter. I say, hell yes, Mari. You did what you had to do.

supreme court denies anna mae he case

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to review the custody battle over Anna Mae He, and denied the Bakers' application to stop the Tennessee Supreme Court mandate ordering that Anna Mae He be reunited with her birth parents, Jack and Casey He: Supreme Court: Decision Stands for Anna Mae He. The ruling appears to be the end of this long and painful legal battle... though the Bakers are still fighting to the bitter end. In federal court papers filed June 12, 2007, the Bakers made another plea to overturn the Tennessee Supreme Court ruling. They're just not giving up. But if the federal court doesn't intervene, 8-year-old Anna Mae is expected to be permanently reunited with her biological family and two younger siblings sometime in late July. And lets face it—that's not going to be easy.

seriously's first music video

Check out Seriously's very first music video, "Irony":

It's directed by Karen Lin, who's done a few things I admire. Those youngsters look like they're having fun. You gotta admit, it's a pretty catch tune. Learn more about Seriously and their music over at Chaos Theory Music.

milwaukee picks yi jianlian... and other sports news

In a surprise move, the Milwaukee Bucks selected 6-foot-11 forward Yi Jianlian as the sixth pick in the NBA draft, making him the fourth Chinese player to make the NBA: Bucks take risk, select Yi with No. 6 pick. The risky pick surprised a few people, considering that Yi hasn't really been looking at Milwaukee, nor has Milwaukee been looking at Yi in the weeks leading up the draft. I really have to wonder if the Bucks are good fit for Yi. He and his handlers have previously expressed interest in playing in a city with a heavy Asian influence, like Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston, Philadelphia or the Bay Area. There are only about 27,500 Asian Americans in Milwaukee. Not exactly heavy. UPDATE: According to league sources Yi's representaties will ask the Buck to trade Yi.

I should also mention that 6-foot-7 Chinese guard Sun Yue was picked by the Los Angeles Lakers in the second round of the draft (number 40 overall).

In other sports news... Michelle Kwan, who turns 27 next month, just finished her first year at the University of Denver, where she is majoring in political science, and generally just trying to lead a normal life. She's also got a budding career as a diplomat, having been tapped by the State Department as "its first American public diplomacy envoy." But she apparently hasn't ruled out a return to competitive figure skating: Kwan Not Ruling Out Comeback Just Yet. Ah, still chasing that ever-elusive Olympic gold medal. Let it go, Michelle.

Here's a New York Times profile on tennis player Meilen Tu, who at age 29 is one of the oldest players in the Wimbledon draw, still hanging in there, and hoping for a last burst of attention before her career ends: Unwilling to Retire, a Veteran Looks to Make a Late Statement

After a rocky post-college career, former University of Hawaii quarterback Timmy Chang is now playing for Hamilton Tiger Cats in the Canadian Football League, and is apparently impressing a lot of people: Promising beginning. He will, however, start as the number two: Chang gets the No. 2 spot

Jacqueline Nguyen, a 2007 graduate from the UCLA women's track and field team, has been awarded one of 58 post-graduate scholarships by the NCAA. She was a 2004 All-American in the pole vault and ranks fifth all-time in Bruin history with a mark of 13-7.25. Read all about her achievement here: Jackie Nguyen Awarded NCAA Post-Graduate Scholarship


dexter johnson receives the death penalty

In Houston, Dexter Johnson has received the death penalty for the kidnapping, rape and murder of Maria Sally Aparece during a crime spree last summer: Sentence leads to outburst in court. When the verdict was read, the courtroom apparently erupted into all sorts of chaos, with Johnson hurling a chair, and his family members yelling and fainting:
When the verdict was read, Johnson began knocking down chairs before he was tackled by about a dozen courtroom officers, who ushered him out a side door. His mother was heard yelling, "Jesus to God" and "Calm down baby" during the bedlam that followed.

"He started moving toward (his) family and I think that was his response to that. I don't think the family moved towards him. I think they were just distraught and really upset and I think they were crying and the family just got up, and everybody moved at one time," defense attorney Anthony Osso said.
Crazy. More here, with blurry video footage from the courtroom: Death Penalty Verdict Causes Courtroom Outburst. I feel sorry for Johnson's mother. I do. It's gotta be hell to see your son sentenced to death. But no matter how much anguish his family feels, it's nothing compared to the devastation Maria's family and Huy Ngo's family have had to deal with, knowing the kind of horror their children had to go through in the final hours of their lives. Aparece's family said that although they don't believe in the death penalty, they believe that Johnson's death sentence will help them reach closure. At this point, I suppose that's all they can for.

colma stays

As I mentioned before, Colma: The Musical opened theatrically last weekend at Embarcadero Center Cinema in San Francisco. So, how did it do? Colma was the #3 indie film in the nation, earning $8,403 per screen—and it only played on one screen. Not bad for a little indie movie. It was the number one movie at Embarcadero Center Cinema, and will now be playing for an extended run (another week) at the theater. It also opens this Friday at Rialto Cinemas in Berkeley. Here's an email I got forwarded along to me from writer/actor/star H.P. Mendoza:
From: "H.P. Mendoza"
Date: June 27, 2007 9:19:02 AM PDT
Subject: Thank you all so much for coming to Colma!

Wow, thanks to all of you who came out to support the film at the Embarcadero on opening weekend. It was so comforting to see so many people at all of the sold out screenings!

And thanks for joining us at that swanky party afterward! It was a lot of fun, even if I did end up acting like my character in the movie by the end of the night.

Colma: The Musical is the #3 independent film in the U.S.: http://www.indiewire.com/buzz/070624.html#008760

and is the #1 film at Landmark Embarcadero selling over more than twice the tickets of the #2 film, Paris Je 'Taime.

Now, that doesn't necessarily make Colma look *big*...it just points out how small independent film really is and how much it needs support.

So, remember what I said about supporting independent film and helping one get more screenings and more cities?

COLMA: The Musical just got extended at Landmark's Embarcadero for another run!

On top of that, COLMA will be opening in Berkeley this Friday! So YES! Another city added!!!

On top of THAT...Roadside added yet ANOTHER city (that I can't disclose just yet) but that raises our five city deal to a SEVEN city deal!

It's all because of attendance and...this doesn't hurt: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/colma_the_musical/


We will be doing Q&A sessions for the 7:30 and 10:30 shows on Friday the 29th and Saturday the 30th.

For those of you who haven't seen it yet, you still have a chance! It plays for an extended run at the Embarcadero Cinema and opens Friday the 29th at Rialto Cinemas Elmwood:

2966 College Ave.
Berkeley, CA

Thank you all, again,
That's all good news. Money talks, and ticket sales can and do result in expanded opportunities, particularly for little indie films like Colma. Soon, it could be coming to a theater near you. To learn more about the film and its screening schedule, go here.


al gore's future son-in-law

Okay, I think 20 people emailed me this bit of news today... According to Page Six, Al Gore's future son-in-law is an Asian guy. That's right, my friends. Guess who's coming to dinner? His youngest daughter, Sarah, 28, is getting married next month to Bill Lee, 36:
June 27, 2007 -- HERE'S another reason to think Al Gore won't run for president. His youngest daughter, Sarah, 28, is getting married next month - not in Gore's hometown of Carthage, Tenn., where his base constituency would expect it, but at the Beverly Hills Hotel, stomping ground of the effete elite so detested by red-staters. The groom is Chinese-American businessman Bill Lee, 36, who met Sarah, a medical student at the University of California at San Francisco, in Los Angeles. It's the first trip down the aisle for both.
I wonder why it was necessary to specify the groom as "Chinese-American businessman Bill Lee." I think "businessman Bill Lee" would have sufficed. Does being Chinese American modify or enhance his businessmanliness? Or is it such an oddity that the youngest daughter of the former Vice President would be marrying a Chinese dude that it just had to be mentioned? Talk about inconvenient truth. Because you gotta wonder if they would've specified that information if Bill here was of a different ethnicity... say, Irish American? (No.)

maggie q in live free or die hard

Live Free or Die Hard, the fourth installment of the successful action franchise (I love these movies, but did we really need another one?) opens in theaters nationwide today. Maggie Q, who seems to be popping up everywhere these days, has a role in the movie as one of the villains, the deadly operative named "Mai." That's her in the photo above, trying very hard to look badass and threatening the beleaguered hacker played by Justin Long, the Mac guy.

UPDATE: I'm told that Sung Kang is also briefly in Live Free or Die Hard—for like two minutes, with a line or two. Don't know much more about his role, whether it's good or bad or whatever... But Sung's a cool guy, and it's good to see he made it into a big ass summer blockbuster.

the long road to recovery

This is a sad story in New York Times about a kid named Gonpo Dorjee, who was seriously injured in a hit and run accident just two weeks after arriving in the United States from Tibet From Tibet to New York, a Youth Now Faces a Long Journey to Recovery. He was out for a walk in Queens, when a red Jeep Cherokee with Florida license plates collided with another car, sending it over the curb and into a pole, and striking Gonpo, his mother and two other pedestrians. Gonpo's right leg was crushed below the knee. The driver of the jeep, who police say is at fault for the accident, just sped away from scene. That's simply messed up. After waiting for years to be reunited with his mother in America, and then finally arriving in New York, Gonpo is now stuck in bed at Bellevue Hospital awaiting surgeries.

His family is worried about hospital bills and health insurance. A fund was established in Gonpo's name to help the family with medical and other expenses: The Gonpo Dorjee Fund, P.O. Box 716, Lake Katrine, N.Y. 12449.

kobayashi sidelined by eating injury

Well, I figured it was bound to happen sooner or later... Takeru Kobayashi of Japan, the six-time champion of the annual Fourth of July hot dog eating contest, may be sidelined for next week's event by a severe jaw injury. That's right. His jaw: Jaw ailment could sideline eating champ. Earlier this week, he said on his website that his "jaw has abandoned the frontline" during his training, with a specialist diagnosing him with arthiritis of the jaw. Now it looks like he might not be able to defend his title on the 4th.

And that, my friends, is part of the dark, dangerous world of competitive eating. Like I said, I kind of expected something like this would happen. The body cannot/should not take that kind of consumption. Though, I sot of imagined it being a lot more gruesome, like Kobayashi choking on a frank in the heat of competition, or his stomach literally exploding under the pressure of trying to break another hot dog speed/consumption record. GROSS. For updates on Kobayashi's condition (if you can read Japanese), go to his official website.

justin lin takes on fast and furious... jet skis?

Remember those BMW Films from a few years back? It was nice attempt at melding art and commerce for a pretty cool marketing campaign. Basically, they got a bunch of "hot" filmmakers from Hollywood (and beyond) to direct a series of short films starring Clive Owen, "The Hire." They were essentially just a bunch of really long commercials, but they were cool. Anyway, it seems that Sea-Doo has enlisted our man Justin Lin to do something similar... with the jet ski. I'm serious. The Shortcut is a 3:33 short film by Justin Lin showing you how awesome the Sea-Doo watercraft is, with speed and stunts and water and all that. With a surprise ending! View it here.

It's pretty ridiculous, but it's nicely done, and it's good to see Justin Lin being tapped to do stuff like this (his Fast and the Furious credit probably didn't hurt)... But jet skis? Really? I mean, the BMW Films made me want to go out and drive a BMW. As cool as some of this stuff looks, it doesn't really compel me to purchase a watercraft. That said, if I have to be subjected to commercials when I go to the movies, I would much rather see something like this in front of the feature presentation. (Thanks, run deemce.)

the real orange county

Here's an interesting article from the Los Angeles Times on the changing face of Orange County—rapidly growing Vietnamese and Latino communities learning to co-exist, working out conflict, and creating a new sense of shared identity in the region: O.C.'s mix of cultures yields cooperation, tensions. It's a pretty interesting snapshot of how these populations are affecting and shaping the education, business and political landscape of Orange County—and not without their share of tension and conflict. Don't believe what you see on that crappy-ass TV show. This is the real Orange County.


chelsea handler's asian jokes on the tonight show

I've been a little behind on this one... on The Tonight Show last week, Chelsea Handler (who?) was on the show to promote something-or-other-who-the-hell-cares, and dropped a few punchlines at the expense of, who else... Asians. She was joking about Angelina Jolie's recently adopted Vietnamese kid, Pax, who "probably doesn't even know he's Asian yet. He certainly doesn't know he's going to be a horrible driver. Or that he's going to be amazing at doing nails. He has no idea!" What the hell? Now, I'm not a big fan fan of Angelina and her international baby-collectin' ways.... but that's a jacked up cheap shot. Ooh, relying on the old bad driver and nail salon jokes. You're so damn funny. And the audience just eats it up. This of course, sets off fellow guest Robin Williams, who starts riffing with incomprehensible accented gibberish (if you've seen him on talk shows before, you know that once you get Robin Williams going, he will not shut up).

The clip of her appearance has been removed from YouTube due to copyright violation, but the awesome guys over at Fallout Central are hosting a clip here. Is anyone else tired of this? Is anyone else sick of the fact that a "comedian" can go on national television and casually disrespect half the world like it ain't a damn thing? Is it because she thinks we're easy targets, and we won't complain or get angry over something like this? It's a cheap laugh that ultimately results in way more harm than just a ten second jab on television—talk to the population of Asian Americans who have had to deal with stereotypes and prejudice on a daily basis, tacitly reinforced by "harmless" joke moments like this. But hey, that's no big deal to pretty blond Chelsea here. Not a concern. Handler also has a history of doing the usual stupid Asian jokes for her show on E! I guess she just can't help going back to the well.

Jenn at Reappropriate has a good discussion on this, and provides a few suggestions on what you can do to speak out about this—including contact info for Handler's agent. I also recommend contacting NBC, but don't expect them to give a crap. That's racist!


casting call for revisionist nanking film

A few weeks back, Ewan sent me this casting call for The Truth of Nanking, an independent Japanese film shooting this summer. It appears to offer a revisionist take on Japan's atrocities in Nanjing in 1937, claiming that widely-held accounts of the massacre are actually falsehoods perpetuated by Chinese government conspiracy. It's absolutely outrageous. Here's a breakdown of the cast (it's long):

Feature Film

SAG - Low Budget Feature

Director: Satoru Mizushima

Casting Director: Yumi Takada

Interview Dates: 6/11-6/28

Shoot/Start Date: mid August to end of September

Location: Los Angles, San Jose, (possibly Japan)




NOTE to Talent Agents : Please DO NOT submit same performers if they were already submitted for this project. This is just to give you better idea of each characters.


[ANNE] Caucasian female, 25-40, attractive, smart, courageous woman. (The rate is negotiable for well-known actress) She will be working from Aug.20th to the end of September. (Lead)

[DAN] male in 35-45, any ethnicity, he plays a producer in the film, smart, supportive, courageous man, a father of 10 yrs old girl. He will be working from Aug.20th to the end of September. (Lead)

[FOREY KIM] (previously called Pholly Kim), Chinese looking female, no accent, 35-45 yrs old, strong actress, mysterious, sexy, intelligent, she is a book editor. She will be working about 11 days. (supporting)

[CHINESE MAN] no accent, 25-35 yrs old, he plays a body guard of Forey Kim. Tough looking. (2 lines) (will work 6 days)

[MIKE] (previously called Press A), 30's, Caucasian or African American male, (1 line) (will work 1-2 days)

[STEVE] (previously called Press B), 30's, Chinese looking male, no accent (1 line), (will work 1-2 days)

[MARK] (previously called Press C), 30's, Caucasian or African American male (1 line) (will work 1-2 days)

[JENNY] (previously called Jane), 25-30 yrs old, any ethnicity,production assistant, (4 lines) (will work 4 days)

[TONY] any ethnicity, 25-30 yrs old, camera man (5 lines) (will work 10 days) may appear shirtless in one scene.

[NAGOSHI] 35-40 yrs old, Japanese producer, with some Japanese accent (4-8 lines) (will work 6 days)

[ANDY] 25-30 yrs old, production manager, Caucasian male, Andy is gay and has semi long hair and skinny. may appear shirtless in one scene. (1 line), (will work 4 days)
[JUDGE ERICKSON] 50's - 60's, Caucasian male, he is fair, distinguished, (will work 5 days)

[JUDGE O'NEIL] 50's, African American male, (will work 5 days) (He may be just featured without line)

[JUDGE JIAN JIN PING] (previously called Judge Ko), 50's, Chinese looking male, no accent, (will work 5 days) (He may be just featured without line)

[MICHAEL LEE] (previously Mr.Lee), he plays a public procurator, 40's, (will work 5 days)

[BAILIFF] 50's- 60's, Caucasian male, (1 line) (will work 5 days)

[NANCY] 25-30 yrs old, production assistant, any ethnicity (2 lines) (will work 2 days)

[CHINESE REPORTER] male, 30's - 40's, (1 line) (will work 1-2 days)

[TV REPORTER] male/female, 30's-40's any ethnicity, (1 line) (will work 1 day)

[RAND] camera man, Caucasian male, 30's, (1 line) (will work 6-7 days)

[NICK] Camera man assistant, Caucasian male, 25-35 yrs old, (will work 6-7 days) (he may be just featured without line)

STORY LINE: The mysterious suicide of Iris Chang, the author of The Rape of Nanking, leads Anne (an actress) and Dan (a producer) both investigating the Nanking Massacre, to come to believe that Iris was actually an agent working for the Chinese government to spread the demagogue. The two announce the production of a documentary called The Truth of Nanking that challenges the widely accepted notion regarding the Massacre. Little by little, the truth unravels...
The truth? The only truth here is that someone is in serious denial. It astounds me that there are people out there who would devote time, effort and money to such nonsense, in effect denying and trivializing the rape, death and destruction of the Nanking massacre. I believe I mentioned this project earlier in the year, though this article initially announced that it would be a documentary (this casting call makes it look like a narrative): Docs offer rival visions of Nanking. Either way, simply infuriating. (Thanks, Ewan.)

Meanwhile, in other Nanking-related movie news... Bill Guttentag and Dan Sturman's American-made documentary Nanking will be released in China next week, amid renewed controversy over the atrocity's actual death toll. Historians generally agree the Japanese army slaughtered at least 150,000 civilians and raped tens of thousands of women during its 1937 rampage in Nanjing. But last week, Japanese ruling party lawmakers claimed that documents from their government's archives indicated only about 20,000 people were killed during the attack. It's been sixty years, and the Japanese government still refuses to come clean. Let's face it, we're never going to see reconciliation over this. Not anytime soon. Nanking will be released in Beijing on July 3rd and all across China on July 7th. The film will be released in the United States later this year from THINKFilm.

custom cleaners wins missing pants lawsuit; pearson gets $0

The Pearson vs. Custom Cleaners verdict is in! It was submitted today by DC Superior Court Judge Judith Bartnoff, ruling in favor of the Chungs with a full defense verdict and an award of costs to the Chungs. For those who don't know anything about this case... basically, Roy Pearson is a fool idiot judge who claim a dry cleaners lost his pants, and thus sued them for a ludicrous $54 million. After lots of media hoopla and a ridiculous trial, Pearson isn't getting a dime: Plaintiff Gets Nothing in $54M Case of Missing Pants. I can't see how the judge could've ruled any other way. More here: Dry cleaner wins missing pants case

Judge Bartnoff delivered her decision this morning in writing—23 pages dissecting and dismissing Pearson's claim that he was defrauded by the owners of Custom Cleaners and their "Satisfaction Guaranteed" sign. When a guy like Pearson is willing to sue $54 million over a pair of pants, you know you have to be thorough. Take that, sucka.

The Chungs, of course, are very pleased with the judge's decision. Here's the official press release from Manning & Sossamon, their attorneys:
Judge Judith Bartnoff ruled resoundingly in favor of the Chungs and Custom Cleaners this morning with a full defense verdict and an award of costs to the Chungs. The Chungs are very pleased with Judge Bartnoff's decision.

Importantly, there is a distinction between an award of costs versus an award of attorney's fees. Costs relate only to the hard costs of the litigation, such as filing fees and transcript charges, and not attorney's fees. As the Court noted, a request for an award of attorney's fees is only appropriate after a verdict is rendered. We will request that the Court award the Chungs attorney's fees later this week. However, any payment of costs or attorney's fees would be suspending pending any appeal of the verdict.

Through her verdict, Judge Bartnoff has spoken loudly in suggesting that, while consumers should be protected, abusive lawsuits like this will not be tolerated. Judge Bartnoff has chosen common sense and reasonableness over irrationality and unbridled venom. Simply put, Judge Bartnoff got it right.

Unfortunately, however, this emotionally and financially burdensome ordeal is likely not over for the Chungs--we fully expect Mr. Pearson to file a Notice of Appeal within the 30 day timeframe for doing so which starts to run today.

In order to help alleviate the financial toll and business setbacks the Chungs have suffered as a result of Mr. Pearson's lawsuit, the US Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform and the American Tort Reform Association will co-host a fundraiser for the Chung family on Tuesday, July 24, 2007 from 6:00-7:30pm at the US Chamber of Commerce building located at 1615 H Street, NW, Washington, DC. This event will be open to the public. To learn more about the Chungs' fundraiser, please visit www.ChungFundraiser.com which should be fully operational later today.
There will be a press conference today, Monday, June 25th at 1:00pm ET at Custom Cleaners, located at 3174 1/2 Bladensburg Rd, NE, Washington DC. And get this: since Custom Cleaners will be open for business, the Chungs ask that you please respect their business hours and not arrive before 12:45pm. If I were them, I'd take the day off. They plan on returning to their regular lives and running their dry cleaning business as usual. Today's verdict marks the end of a ridiculous nightmare for them, that never should've occurred in the first place.

yi jianlian is coming...

Here's another article on Chinese NBA draft prospect Yi Jianlian... so, how big is the hype surrounding this guy? The headline pretty much says it all: The N.B.A. and China Hope They've Found the Next Yao. They've actually been hyping this guy for quite a while now. Check out this TIME article from almost four years ago: The Next Yao Ming? While Yao Ming certainly got things started, Yi seems to be the guy everyone is pinning their hopes on these days to open up the floodgates to China (and of course, its rapidly growing economy), and generally raise the international profile of professional basketball. That's a lot to expect of one guy. He's 19.

the worst way to tell your mom you dropped out of school

Some more information on Audley Yung, the former UC Riverside student who is accused of making criminal threats against the campus... the kid apparently threatened to detonate explosives during commencement in order to scare officials into canceling graduation so he wouldn't have to tell his parents that he had dropped out: Police link UCR incident to effort to spare a mother disappointment. Basically, Audley dropped out of school a little while back, and didn't want dear mom to know. So he figured the best way to prevent her from coming to graduation was to have graduation canceled... by way of bomb threat, going as far as igniting a Molotov cocktail and setting a tree on fire. If university officials canceled grad ceremonies, he wouldn't have to go, and Mom would be none the wiser.

Yeah. This situation could've been handled a lot better.

I think this actually happens a lot amongst college students. They drop out, but don't really tell the folks back home, for fear of disappointment and all that. And the checks keep coming, I guess. Then, come graduation time, parents are expecting to see their kid in a cap and gown walking across that stage. Sooner or later, the truth comes out, and there's big trouble. I have actually heard of this happening several times amongst friends and acquaintances. I don't know if it's an Asian thing. But dude, none of those kids tried to blow up the school.

More here: Filing sheds light on UC Riverside threat. My sympathies to this guy, for feeling he couldn't come clean with his parents. That said, he's an idiot. Yung was charged with making criminal threats, possession of an explosive device, igniting an explosive device, maliciously setting a fire, possession of a device with the intent to maliciously set a fire and falsely impersonating someone (the impersonation charge was filed because Yung tried to frame someone else for the crimes). And now, he joins this year's bizarre pantheon of unstable, off-kilter Asian American students... all of who seemed to have found the absolutely worst way to deal with their particular situations, to put it lightly. I'm telling you, we're seeing the birth of a new stereotype. At least summer's here. School's out, so maybe we'll get a break from all the madness... until fall.

65th anniversary of the 100th battalion

Here's a great article in the Honolulu Advertiser on the 100th Battalion, comprised of Japanese American soldiers who served and fought for the United States during World War II: Preserving memories of the 100th Battalion. The 100th Infantry Battalion—dubbed "One Puka Puka" and later absorbed by the better known 442nd Regimental Combat Team—was the first all-Japanese American battalion comprising volunteers from Hawai'i, and was one of the most decorated units in military United States. The unit was officially activated on June 12, 1942—65 years ago this month. Of the more than 1,400 soldiers in this unit, about 450 are still alive (and aren't getting any younger). The veterans are in their 80s now, and running out of time to tell their stories, so it's important that their legacy lives on. It's a good article with some great information, so check it out. Also check out the Advertiser's 100th Battalion 65th Anniversary special: Remembering the 100th Battalion.

vietnam's president visits u.s.

Last week, Vietnam's President Nguyen Minh Triet arrived in Washington as part of a weeklong trip to the United States—the first of his country's presidents to visit the U.S. since the Vietnam War: Vietnam President Arrives for Visit to Washington. He brings with him a delegation of more than 100 Vietnamese businessmen, with hopes of strengthening ecomomic ties between the two countries. Some U.S. activists and lawmakers, however, are hoping to address Vietnam's abysmal human rights record. Unfortunately, Triet has made it clear that he believes there is no need for improvement in this area: Viet Leader: No Need to Fix Human Rights.

Hundreds of protesters, most of them critical of Triet and his government's human rights record, demonstrated Friday night at Triet's next stop, in Los Angeles: Protesters gather where Vietnam's president stays. Orange County, of course, is home to a huge number of Vietnamese who resettled in the area after the Vietnam War. The area now has the largest Vietnamese community outside of their home country. Thus, we were bound to see a large number of pro-democracy demonstrators in Southern California. the protest had apparently been in the works for months. And it was a huge deal, with thousands coming out to say hello to Triet. And by hello, I mean "Go home Viet Cong." I think they made their point, loud and clear: Making their voices heard.

pinocchio and the caged chinese boy

My friend Jessica recently snapped this photo on a recent trip to Disneyland:

I'm assuming this is a scene from "Pinocchio's Daring Journey." Jessica writes:
So apparently Pinocchio is either lying or making friends with a caged Chinese boy. I rode the ride twice to make sure I saw it correctly as the caged Chinese boy was in a corner in the beginning of the ride and it was dark. I wasn't sure I saw it.

I dont remember this in the movie, and I guess I never went on the ride before. Just weird.
Indeed. Very weird. Pinocchio is about to poke a caged Chinese kid with his nose. It's been a long time since I've seen the movie... and I don't remember any caged Chinese kids either. What the hell is happening here? There's something seriously wrong with the Chinese kid's eyes. That's racist!

man kills wife and kids over financial problems

Last week in Berkeley, Kevin Morrissey shot and killed his wife, Dr. Mamiko Kawai, and their two children before turning the gun himself: Dad kills family, self, cops say. His suicide note apparently described difficulties ("a financial breaking point") at the family's East Bay skin-care clinic.

Whenever I hear about these family murder-suicide tragedies, my first thought is always, there had to be a better way. I don't care what kind of financial straits you're in, or even deep struggles with mental health... there just had to be a better way of dealing with the situation. I know I'm oversimplifying things, and I'm sorry if I sound insensitive, but killing yourself and taking your family with you should never be an appropriate option. My second thought is how selfish such an act is. To kill yourself is one thing, and tragic. But to take your family with you? Your young children? An extremely selfish act, and it makes me angry. More on this tragedy here: Man who killed family described as grim


guilty verdict for "quincy 4"

The "Quincy 4" verdict is in... they've been found guilty. Three of the four Asian Americans arrested last year amidst accusation of racism and police brutality against Quincy, MA police were found guilty Friday of resisting arrest or disorderly conduct or both after a jury deliberated less than three hours: Guilty verdict in Quincy fracas. More here: RACISM ALLEGED: 2 get jail for disorderly conduct. The courtroom was apparently packed with community activists and supporters of the Quincy 4. Xenon wrote to me with his take on the proceedings, after a long, emotional day:
i'm sure there will be more formal statements coming in the next few days, but right now community organizers are still reeling from the verdicts and the sentences. the above "newsflash" style article neglects to mention that even the prosecution and district attorneys recommended only probationary sentences, with no prison time. in fact, the defendants were offered pre-trial plea bargains where they could get reduced probationary sentences if they simply "admitted guilt" and apologized to the police. but because the defendants proceeded to take their case to court and fight to prove their innocence, the judge decided to go one step further with punitive measures. we believe that this was further exacerbated by several factors. primary amongst these was because there was such a large community outcry, and because the public condemnation of police conduct (along with a formal complaint filed) was very much a liability in the midst of the local authorities' much (self-) vaunted "outreach" efforts to the new asian immigrant community. it was obviously an embarrassment for them to have crowds of people, (many of them elderly residents who speak no english, in addition to high school students, and other supporters from other communites) packing the courtroom each day, creating such a commotion in the courthouse.

as if this wasn't enough, because the verdict was rendered at the close of the business day, the two victims currently spending this night (and the next ten) in prison will not be fully "processed", and as such have no phone or visitation rights from even their immediate family. one of the condemned is the newlywed man for whom this very offense was visited upon him 14 months ago on his engagement night. his wife will not be allowed to speak with or visit him for the duration of his incarceration.

further details will be forthcoming, either from myself, or as is much more likely, via others more intimately involved in the ordeal. it should be noted that there were several racial dimensions in the case, including the police officers' persistent testimony of the defendants as "threatening" them with "fighters' stances" and "feeling threatened" because the officers (all white) could not understand the victims' yelling and screaming in cantonese. also at issue was the ritual of a traditional chinese "engagement party", which involves formal family visits and exchange of dowries, etc.. the prosecution constantly tried to equate this with a western engagement or "bachelor/-rette" party, where the alcohol flows much more freely. (the defendants' probationary sentences will now also include mandatory AA meetings and random drug testing.)
Here's the official press release from the Chinese Progressive Assocation, the group the Quincy Officer's Assocation president called a "radical activist organization" (ha):
Lydia Lowe (617) 851-1327
Zenobia Lai (857) 919-0565
Lisette Le (617) 970-0052

June 23, 2007


A six-person jury delivered its verdict yesterday evening in the case of the "Quincy 4," four Asian Americans charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest in an incident involving the Quincy police.

One defendant, Howard Ng, was found innocent of disorderly conduct, while defendants Karen Chen, Quan Thin, and Tat Yuen were found guilty on either or both charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. The four were adamant that they were falsely charged after being victims of police brutality in the early hours of April 30, 2006 in front of the Super 88 market on Hancock Street.

The case had attracted local attention when defendant Karen Chen, a former Community Organizer at the Chinese Progressive Association, and eyewitness Joanna Ng filed a complaint of police misconduct with the Quincy Police Department last year. The four defendants continued to attract strong support from the Chinese community throughout a year of pre-trial proceedings and court postponements. During this week's five-day trial, supporters had to sit outside the courtroom for hours because the courtroom was over-packed and the judge would not allow people to stand.

The jury heard from seven witnesses over the course of the five-day trial, including six law enforcement officers and one eyewitness who was a friend of the defendants. The prosecution painted a picture of a drunk and unruly mob which surged against the officers and made them fear for their lives, calling forth several police witnesses to say that the group had yelled profanities and some had swung punches. The defense pointed out inconsistencies in the officers' testimony and between their court testimony and written reports. Most had been asked to write reports after the complaint of police misconduct had been filed. A civilian eyewitness described an unprovoked attack and use of pepper spray by a Quincy police officer, followed by a brutal series of arrests which left Chen with a black eye and bruises and Yuen with a concussion. The prosecution questioned the witness' account as both biased and involving more details than her original complaint.

Following the verdicts, the prosecution requested sentences of 18 months' probation for Chen and two years' probation for Thin and Yuen. Judge Mary Orfanello, instead, slapped Thin and Yuen each with a six month suspended sentence with 10 days of incarceration and two years' probation. Because witnesses had testified that Thin was drunk on the evening of the incident, she further sentenced him to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings three days per week for the entire two-year probation period. All three must pay one-time fees as well as $21 per month into the probation system. Thin and Yuen were immediately handcuffed and taken into custody, without even allowing them to say goodbye to family members present. No visitors are allowed during the 10 days. The community audience in the closely packed courtroom was visibly stunned as the judge announced the verdicts and unusually harsh sentences for what are normally considered minor offenses.

All four defendants had earlier been offered a plea bargain agreement known as pre-trial probation, in which they could have voluntarily entered probation to avoid incarceration by writing a letter of apology to the Quincy Police Department and signing an agreement not to sue the department.

"We didn't take it, because we did nothing wrong. Why should we have to apologize to the police for what they did to us?" said Karen Chen.

The defendants expressed gratitude for the community support they received during the trial. Supporters came from within the Asian American community as well as from white, African American, and other immigrant communities. Community supporters will hold a post-trial discussion today and commemorate the 25th anniversary of the death of Vincent Chin, a Chinese American who was beaten to eath in Detroit by two white auto workers amid rising anti-Japanese sentiment. Chin's two killers were convicted but never served a day in jail.
There was originally scheduled to be a screening and discussion of Who Killed Vincent Chin? this afternoon, part of the National Townhall on Hate Crimes, but community organizers now feel compelled to hold an emergency strategy session following the film, concerning the next for the community resulting from the verdict. It wil be held today, Saturday, June 23rd, 2:00pm at 665 Hancock St., Quincy, MA.


hiro's hero... is a white dude

Some casting news for you Heroes fans... but it's really weird: Six More Join NBC's Heroes! According to the Hollywood Reporter, Japanese pop star and actress Eriko Tamura will play a princess, presumably opposite Hiro Nakamura (Masi Oka) who time traveled to feudal Japan in the season finale. But that's not weird part. The show has apparent added David Anders to the cast to play ancient samurai warrior Takezo Kensei, Hiro's childhood hero. Fans of Alias will recognize Anders as the nefarious villain Sark. They'll also remember that David Anders is white. What the hell?

While never seen during Heroes' first season, the legend of Kensei played a key part throughout the show's plot. Hiro spent most of the season trying to get ahold of Kensei's sword, which he hoped would help him channel his power in his quest to save the world. I guess the legend of Kensei never mentioned that he was actually white. So... are we talking yellowface here? Or is it one of those Last Samurai situations? Either way, this sounds pretty stupid... Stay tuned, Heroes fans.

vancouver's new police chief

Quite a few of you proud Asian Canadians wrote into inform me that Vancouver police Deputy Chief Jim Chu has just been named the city's new chief constable: Deputy to become new Vancouver police chief. He's apparently the first chief of Asian descent to serve Vancouver (or any major Canadian city, for that matter). A 28-year veteran of the force, he was one of just three Chinese-Canadian officers when he enlisted in 1979. Now he's the top cop. More here: Vancouver, meet your new police chief

matsui is back on track

Kazuo Matsui has rebounded from his high-profile "failure" with the New York Mets with a .318 batting average and 12 stolen bases in 32 games for the Colorado Rockies this season: In Colorado, Matsui's Problems Have Vanished Into Thin Air. His Major League debut a few years back was supposed to be a pretty big deal, when he signed a three-year, $20.1 million deal with the Mets. In his first Mets at-bat, he hit a home run. Unfortunately, that would end up being the greatest highlight of his disappointing career with the Mets. Now with Colorado, he's kicking some serous ass for the Rockies. Sounds like he's finally found his stride, and living up to the promise of his potential, without having to deal with all the hype.


comfort women resolution reaches foreign affairs committee

The ongoing months-long grassroots lobbying campaign over the 'comfort women' issue will culminate next week when the House Foreign Affairs Committee takes up a resolution calling on Japan to acknowledge formally and accept responsibility for sexually enslaving women during World War II: 'Comfort Women' resolution to reach Foreign Affairs panel. In a weird twist, the campaign's recent victory comes partly because a group of Japanese politicians and academics last week took out an ad in The Washington Post saying there is no proof women were forced into sexual enslavement: Japan Lawmakers Take Out U.S. Ad on Comfort Women. It appears to have had the opposite of it intended effect. Thanks to this ridiculous ad, there's apparently now more support for the resolution than ever.

According to Rep. Michael Honda, who authored the resolution, HR 121 is likely to be put to a vote at the full House of Representatives possibly in mid-July. The House Foreign Affairs Committee has decided to put the resolution to a vote on June 26. With support from 140 House legislators—both Republicans and Democrats—the resolution is expected to pass. To learn more about HR 121, as well as information about World War II "comfort stations," visit Support121.org.

colma: the musical opens friday in san francisco

San Francisco.... get ready for Colma: The Musical! Richard Wong and H.P. Mendoza's rousing musical about the sleepy Bay Area town opens this Friday, June 22nd at Embarcadero Center Cinema in San Francisco. The smash festival hit is coming home, with a theatrical release from Roadside Attractions. It's a musical of teenage love, relationships and self-discovery, set against the backdrop of Colma, a city whose claim to fame is that the dead outnumber the living 1500 to 1. Because of the all cemetaries (if you've been there, you just know). It's smart, fun, and indie as hell.

The film has been a festival favorite over the last year, winning the Special Jury Prize at the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival, Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival and San Diego Asian Film Festival. Now's your chance to check it out in San Francisco. This weekend, there will be Q&As with Colma's cast and crew on Friday and Saturday night at the 7:30pm and 10:00pm shows. Get your tickets here. Get your ass to theater, bring a friend.

As for those of you in other cities, for now, Colma: The Musical is set to open in New York at the Quad on July 6, and in Los Angeles sometime in August. If it does well this weekend and beyond, who knows? It might have a shot at additional cities. So spread the word! For more information about the film, go here.

teenage girls charged in bias incident

A few weeks ago in New Jersey, three teenage girls were charged with scrawling a racial slur on the driveway of an Asian American man and smearing his house with ketchup, eggs and white rice: 3 'bored' Wanaque girls charged in bias incident. The guy came home from work to find "[Expletive] You Chinese" written in dish detergent on the driveway of his house. According to police, a cardboard food carton commonly used in Chinese take-outs was placed nearby. And the front steps and garage door were smeared with ketchup, eggs and white rice, with food also scattered around the property. Disgusting.

What did they have against this guy? Why did they perpetrate this hateful (and messy) act? When questioned, they told police they were just plain "bored." That appears to be all the reason you need. They were charged with bias intimidation, criminal mischief and harassment. This is a hate crime, plain and simple. What kind of world do we live in where people will target an Asian guy simply because they have nothing better to do? That's racist! The thing is, this nature of this incident sounds an awful lot like the one last week involving three teenage boys in Michigan. What is the hell is wrong with the youth of America?

the fight for vang pao

Last week, hundred of protestors demonstrated outside a federal courthouse in Sacramento in support of Vang Pao, the most recognized leader of Hmong people in the United States, who awaits trial on charges of trying to overthrow the communist government of Laos: Hmong Leader Held on Coup Charges. U.S. Magistrate Judge Edmund Brennan refused to release him on bail, ruling that Vang Pao is "too dangerous and too great a flight risk to be freed under any circumstances," despite his age (77) and deteriorating health. He and eight other Hmong elders were arrested earlier this month on charges that they tried to buy nearly $10 million worth of military weapons and recruit mercenaries to unseat Laos' communist government.

Many older Hmong Americans were shocked by the arrest of Vang Pao, because they felt American prosecutors were turning their backs on a war hero. A military general in Laos, he was lauded for leading forces backed by the CIA in the "secret war" against communists there during the Vietnam War. However, his arrest has also revealed an interesting split in the Hmong American community, between old and young, between those who fled Laos and those who grew up here: Arrest Uncovers Divide in Hmong-Americans. Now, the community will have to wait and see...

sixers take a look at yi

Lots of theory and speculation over the latest NBA prospect to hit our shores from China, power forward Yi Jianlian... this week, the Philadelphia 76ers attended one of Yi's private workouts. Rumors suggest that Yi may be fading in the June 28 draft and that the Sixers, who pick 12th, 21st and 30th in the first round, could have a legitimate shot at him: Out West, Sixers put their eyes on Yi. At 6-foot-11, 238 pounds, could he be the next Chinese sensation on the court? We shall see.

give us the real chinese food

Here's an ineresting op-ed piece by Nina and Tim Zagat in the New York Times on American perceptions of Asian food, and sad, sad state of Chinese food in the United States: Eating Beyond Sichuan. Basically, it lacks authenticity, and we have no idea what we've been missing:
That's because the lackluster Cantonese, Hunan and Sichuan restaurants in this country do not resemble those you can find in China. There is a historic explanation for the abysmal state of Chinese cuisine in the United States. Without access to key ingredients from their homeland, Chinese immigrants working on the Central Pacific Railroad in the 1860s improvised dishes like chow mein and chop suey that nobody back in their native land would have recognized. To please the naive palates of 19th-century Americans, immigrant chefs used sweet, rich sauces to coat the food - a radical departure from the spicy, chili-based dishes served back home.

But today, getting ingredients is no longer an issue. Instead, the principal obstacle to improving Chinese fare here is the difficulty of getting visas for skilled workers since 9/11. Michael Tong, head of the Shun Lee restaurant group in New York, has said that opening a major Chinese restaurant in America is next to impossible because it can take years to get a team of chefs from China. Chinese restaurateur Alan Yau planned to open his first New York City restaurant last year but was derailed because he was unable to get visas for his chefs.
You hear that, Condoleezza Rice? How about some dumpling diplomacy? Forget issues of illegal immigration, terrorism, espionage, and all that. Dammit, the food would be awesome. The piece suggests that China and the United States should work togeter on a culinary visa program that makes it easier for Chinese chefs to come here. With more chefs from China's restaurants, America could see a Chinese food revolution!

new york asian film festival 2007

Asian film fans, it is time. Dragon Dynasty and Subway Cinema present the New York Asian Film Festival 2007, June 22-July 8 at the IFC Center and Japan Society. Featuring a truckload of some of the best cinema Asia has to offer. 17 days, 30 films, including Feng Xiaogang's The Banquet, Ryu Seung-wan's City of Violence, Soi Cheang's Dog Bite Dog, Johnnie To's Exiled, Lee Sang-Il's Hula Girls, Park Chan-Wook's I'm a Cyborg But That's OK, and a whole lot more. There's also a special 15th anniversary presentation of John Woo's Hard Boiled. It just looks like a fantastic lineup. Here's a New York Times write-up on the festival: Asian Cinema, Swimming in Crime and Cuteness

This film festival should not be confused with the Asian American International Film Festival, presented by Asian CineVision in association with Asian Society. That is an entirely different, equally awesome festival happening in New York next month, July 19-28. Peruse the schedule, buy your tickets, make some plans.

19-year-old convicted in rape-murder

Last week in Houston, 19-year-old Dexter Johnson was convicted for the carjacking, robbery, rape and murder of Maria Aparece last summer: 19-year-old convicted in rape-murder. He faces the death penalty or life in prison. The guy is a lowlife killer who also murdered 17-year-old Huy Ngo:
Johnson was one of five people, the evidence showed, who carjacked Aparece and her boyfriend, Huy Ngo, on June 18, 2005, as the couple talked in her blue Toyota Matrix outside Ngo's home near midnight.

Johnson, his close friend Keithron Fields, 18, and an uncharged juvenile threatened Aparece and Ngo with a shotgun and a pistol, threw the couple in the backseat and drove them around Houston demanding money, credit cards and ATM access numbers, Andrews said.

The three found the parked car as they rode with Timothy Randle, 20, and Ashley Ervin, 18, in Ervin's car.

The five are suspected in a crime spree authorities said also claimed the lives of Brady Davis and Jose Lopez in separate shootings.

Prosecutors said Johnson raped Aparece in the backseat of her car after parking near a patch of thick woods. Ngo was forced to listen to the assault on his knees as the other four taunted him.
The jury is now listening to testimony during the punishment phase of the trial. You might remember I first mentioned this case almost a year ago, when the five suspects were first arrested. During the hearing, Aparace's family became emotional, and her uncle tried to attack Johnson upon hearing that she had been sexually assaulted before she was killed: 5 Suspects Face 15 Capital Murder Charges (there's news footage of her uncle's attempted attack in the courtroom). What a nightmare.

72 hour shootout launch party

Filmmakers friends! Be aware that the 4th Annual 72 Hour Shootout goes down this weekend. 72 hours to write, shoot, edit and produce a short digital film. It should be a crazy weekend of creativity, chaos and inspired moviemaking. To kickoff the festivities, they're throwing a party. To all the folks in New York, the Shootout Launch Party is this Friday, June 22nd, 8:00 p.m. EST at Fontana's, where they'll announce the long-awaited theme of this year's Shootout. Meet your fellow filmmakers/competition, have a few drinks and some fun... before you embark on your 72 hour film journey. If you're an actor, writer etc. who's still hoping to be a part of a team, they'll actually be facilitating team match-ups at the event. Also, if you'd like to participate in The Shootout, they'll have last-minute registration on site. It's not too late for you! For more information about the launch party and competition, go here.

custom cleaners verdict pending

The latest news on the Roy Pearson vs. Custom Cleaners lawsuit (you know—lost pants, $54 million)... The latest news is there is no latest news, at the moment. According to Manning & Sossamon, the firm representing the Chungs, they're still awaiting a verdict from Judge Bartnoff. At the close of the trial last week, the Judge suggested that her decision would be sent to counsel via email by the close of this week. As soon as they get the verdict, they'll promptly inform the media. I'll be sure to post news here as soon as I get the word. Here's the information I received regarding the press conference, which will be held at Custom Cleaners after the verdict is delivered:
In order to limit media inquiries to them, the Chungs have agreed to do one press conference following the verdict where they will field a limited number of questions from the media. An interpreter will be present to translate. The press conference will either take place the afternoon the verdict is delivered if Judge Bartnoff notifies counsel in the morning, or the following morning if the Judge notifies us in the afternoon. Exact information as to timing will be included in the email with the Judge's decision.

The press conference will take place at Custom Cleaners located at 3174 1/2 Bladensburg Rd, NE, Washington, DC. Because the Chungs are very concerned with returning to their lives and running their dry cleaning business, they will not be available for any additional interviews after the press conference. The Chungs ask that the media kindly respect their privacy.
So they should be hearing from the judge pretty soon. I cannot see how she could possibly rule in favor of Pearson. Either way, I'm sure the Chungs are thankful that this nightmare is finally drawing to a close. They can hopefully put this behind them and move on with their lives. As for Pearson, he can go eat a bag of crap. I hope someone out there finds a ridiculous, frivolous reason to bitchslap him with a $54 million lawsuit.

One thing about this whole ordeal that hasn't been covered much, is that it has dredged up simmering issues of Black/Korean tensions in the D.C. area and beyond. Washington Post blogger Raw Fisher writes about the case, and the related matter of ethnic rivalry: D.C.'s Black-Korean Dynamic: A Simmering Tension

UPDATE: Manning & Sossamon has been informed that the verdict in the Pearson v. Chung matter will be issued either tomorrow afternoon (Friday, June 22, 2007) or on Monday (June 25, 2007) by noon. Stay tuned.


kashif's got talent

Did you all see Kashif on America's Got Talent last night?

I have no idea how this guy made it to the second round. Could we have America's new Sanjaya in our midst? Sepia Mutiny's got their commentary here: America's Got... Kashif, Hai Hai

taguba was forced out over abu ghraib

According to a New Yorker article published this week, Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba, who led the first investigation into detainee abuse at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, believes senior defense officials were involved in directing abusive interrogation policies and said he was forced to retire early because of his pursuit of the issue: General: Top officials knew of prison abuses

Taguba's March 2004 report on the scandal found that "numerous incidents of sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses were inflicted on several detainees" at Abu Ghraib by soldiers from the 372nd Military Police Company from October to December 2003. But he says he felt mocked and shunned by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other senior civilian and military officials after the investigation into Abu Ghraib was completed, and in early 2006, he was ordered, without explanation, to retire within a year. Talk about shooting the messenger... for doing the right thing. More here: General says he was forced out over Abu Ghraib report.

teens accused of racial intimidation

In Saline, Michigan, three teens have been charged by police with ethnic intimidation for vandalizing two homes in the same subdivision, including one house where an ethnic slur was spray-painted on a driveway. And oh yeah, one of the families they targeted is Asian: Saline teens accused of racial intimidation, vandalism. Two 15-year-old boys and a 16-year-old boy were charged Monday with malicious destruction of property, larceny and ethnic intimidation for spray-painting the driveways and vehicles at two homes. The residents, who discovered a "painted ethnic slur" and other vandalism on their driveway, say "they believe their 14-year-old son, who is of Asian-Pacific American descent, was targeted by classmates at Saline High School." That's racist!

next stop: brain research

Hey, want a reminder of how unaccomplished you are? This month, just weeks after his 16th birthday, Andrew Hsu became the second-youngest person to graduate from the University of Washington, and the youngest with a triple degree—in neurobiology, biochemistry and chemistry: 3 degrees aren't enough for 16-year-old UW grad. That is one friggin' smart kid. And starting this summer, he plans to begin his doctoral research into brain function at Stanford University's medical school. Kids, hide the newspaper from your parents. You don't them to know about this guy...

hate crime in koreatown?

Police are investigating a group of Korean Americans for beating up 2 white men and one white woman lst week in Los Angeles' Koreatown, in a racially charged attack. Unfortunately, the news article is in Korean, and I can't find any English-language news on this incident. However, this blog has the translation:
For the linguistically challenged, the above says that a BMW with Korean American in it approached close to the 3 victims, and the Korean Americans shouted slurs at the victims, which the victims ignored. The Korean Americans then got out of the BMW and said "Why did you come to our territory, Koreatown?", before starting to beat them up.
Why the hell does this kind of stuff continue to happen? It doesn't give too many details or context as to why this went down, but it sounds pretty stupid. It actually sounds a lot like that hate crime in Queens last summer, where two guys chased down a car assaulted a group of Chinese American guys. Racism works both ways, my friends. It's idiotic. That's racist! I am surprised though, that the mainstream press has not yet picked up on this story. If anyone finds hears anything more about this, please let me know.

UPDATE: I've been informed that the site linked above responsible for the translation is a notoriously anti-Korean site (the subsquent comments in the post should make that obvious), so bear that in mind before you get all the facts. I should've.

everybody loves an old asian guy

Here's a brief New York Times story on actor Kim Chan, who retired after nearly forty years in the business: A Tough Act I, but the Second Has Some Funny Bits. You've probably seen him here and there playing the old Asian dude, whenever the story calls for one. His resume is riddled with credited roles like "Dim Sum Cook," "Chinatown Butcher," "Old Asian Man," and "Meditation Teacher." And of course, he's twice played an old Asian mob boss named "Benny"—in two different movies. He's now 90-years-old. And be sure to watch the great little video piece that accompanies the article: Kim Chan: The Zen of Comedy

asian pop on asian pops

"It's a pirate boat, Daddy, with a pig on it!" Father's Day has passed, but I had to mention Jeff Yang's latest "Asian Pop" column in SFGate, where he muses on being an Asian American father along with the other guys from the blog Rice Daddies—Dr. Lo Siento, Henri, SoulSnax, Daddy in a Strange Land and Newbie Dad—his father fellow comrades-in-arms: Poppa Culture. It's a nice piece... with photos.

why vincent chin still matters

Some follow-up on the anniversary of Vincent Chin's death... The Detroit Free Press has a look back: Fighting hate, 25 years later. Some folks have written to me, questioning what's so significant about a murder case that happened 25 years ago? What's so important? You might dismiss it, considering all the causes and stories Asian Americans make noise about these days. But you have to remember that before Vincent Chin, there was very little collective, cohesive sense of Asian American empowerment...
The Chin killing remains a touchstone for the Asian-American community in both Michigan and across the nation, binding previously scattered communities of Chinese-, Japanese-, Korean- and Filipino-Americans to advocate against racial discrimination and hate crimes.

"It brought together Asian Americans as Asian Americans and forged a movement," said Frank Wu, dean of the law school at Wayne State University. "It made this group of people who had very little in common realize that even if their ancestors hated each other, they had a common cause in America. That's why this case still matters."

This unity continues to be central in Asian-Americans' ability to affect change, said Stephanie L. Chang, a board member of the American Citizens for Justice, a community advocacy group formed in the wake of the Chin killing.

"With some of the recent incidents from the past year -- the Vietnamese man in Grand Rapids -- people are starting to understand that we have to talk about these issues collectively instead of in our separate ethnic groups," Chang said Monday.

In November, a Vietnamese man was beaten after an altercation inside a club in Grand Rapids, during which racially derogatory slurs allegedly were made against Asian women. No one has been arrested or charged in the incident.
Hate crimes still happen. There is still violence against Asians... call it a bias attack, ethnic intimidation, racially-motivated, hate crime, whatever. I'm not saying that addressing violence against other communities and peoples is not important. But I'll be damned if I'm going to stay quiet while people in my community become victims. Here's another opinion piece reflecting Vincent Chin, by Sehjong Hamjong in The Daily Texan: 25 years later: In memory of Vincent Chin. The National Townhall on Hate Crimes is still happening in some cities. Check here for details on the events in Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, Washington DC, San Francisco and other cities.

Oh, and a lot of folks have asked me where they might get a copy of Christine Choy and Renee Tajima-Pena's documentary Who Killed Vincent Chin? on DVD. Here's the thing. The is film actually only available for educational distribution from Filmakers Library, which means your school or library can purchase it for $395, or rent it for $95 (your school or library might actually already have it). That's a pretty hefty price for the average viewer. I have no idea if/when there are plans for a home video release. That's why it's important to catch screenings of the film when you get the chance. And I highly recommend checking it out. Hell, I'd call it required viewing.


no justice, no peace

Vincent Chin, 1955-1982. Take part in the National Townhall on Hate Crimes.

add another guy to the list

Damn it. Damn it. This is getting ridiculous: Ex-UC Riverside student held in firebomb incidents. A former UC Riverside student was arrested Saturday in connection with a series of on-campus incidents—including the discovery of two homemade firebombs—that led to the cancellation of Friday evening's graduation ceremony. University police arrested 22-year-old Audley Yung for plotting the firebombs, sending officials threatening letters and setting a palm tree on fire. More here: UCR Holds Graduation Under Tight Security. Yung was booked on suspicion of possessing a destructive device, and of committing arson and making terrorist threats. And yes... he is Asian American. I don't want to connect too many dots, but dude, what the hell is up with this trend? Add Audley here to the growing list of violent and disturbed Asian men that have been in the headlines over the last few months. We have a full-fledged stereotype on our hands...

jerry yang is yahoo's new ceo

Yesteray, Yahoo Inc. announced that chief executive officer Terry Semel was stepping down and was being replaced by one of the firm's founders, Jerry Yang: Yahoo replaces CEO Semel with co-founder Yang. Jerry co-founded the company back in 1994 as a navigational guide in the Web's early days. For a while now, he's had the title of Chief Yahoo. Now, CEO. More details here: Yahoo co-founder Yang to replace Semel as CEO. Go Jerry. Do what you gotta do.

yankees sign two chinese players

The New York Yankees have announced that they've signed two players—left-handed pitcher Kai Liu and catcher Zhenwang Zhang—to Minor League contracts, with approval from the Chinese Baseball Association: Yankees sign two Chinese prospects. I believe this would make them the first baseball players from mainland China. I'm kind of surprised that they didn't make the effort to sign Chinese players a lot sooner. The Major League obviously realizes that there's big money to be made in a country of 1.3 billion, and it would be beneficial and lucrative to grow the game overseas, along the lines of the NBA's Yao Ming.

san francisco supervisor ed jew arrested

Last week in San Francisco, Supervisor Ed Jew surrendered to authorities after the district attorney filed criminal charges against him and issues a warrant for his arrest, saying Jew committed electoral fraud when he lied about where he lives in order to run for office: PERJURY CHARGE HITS SUPERVISOR. District Attorney Kamala Harris said in a written statement that Jew lied under oath and falsified documents when he claimed in candidacy papers that he lived in a house owned by his father in the city's Sunset neighborhood. In all, Jew was charged with nine felonies, including four counts of perjury and one count of filing a false document.

Jew's supporters, however, are crying foul, claiming that the media and City Hall leaders want him out of office because he is Chinese American (the only Asian American on the Board of Supervisors) and politically conservative: Supporters say Ed Jew is victim of racism. Normally, I'd be quick to cry that's racist, I honestly haven't been following this case close enough to know any of the important facts... but it sounds like he's in some big ass trouble. Meanwhile, San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera announced on Monday that he will seek the approval of the state attorney general to file a lawsuit to remove Jew from office: City Attorney moves to remove Ed Jew from office -- seeks permission to sue from AG.

entertainment news and things

Silly Pipe Dreams has a good interview with comedian/actor Ken Jeong, the funny Asian dude who many of you recently saw as Dr. Kuni in Knocked Up: Ms. Holly Wood, Dr. Ken Will See You Now. He's also one of the hilarious foursome known as the Kims of Comedy.

Lost star Yunjin Kim recently published a memoir, The World is Your Drama, chronicling her struggles and successes on the "rise to Hollywood stardom": 'Lost' Star Finds Success with Hollywood Memoirs. The book's first run of 7,000 copies apparently sold out in one week in Korea.

Censors in China have reportedly cut scenes of Chow Yun-Fat as Captain Sao Feng in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, saying they insult China's people: Chow's "Pirates" Scenes Cut in China. According to a Chinese magazine, "The captain starring Chow is bald, his face heavily scarred, he also wears a long beard and has long nails, images still in line with Hollywood's old tradition of demonizing the Chinese." I never got around to watching the movie (it's not like they really needed my ticket dollars), but it sounds like they were upset with some good ol' fashioned Hollywood yellow peril.

Bad news for all you Rain fans in America. The Korean pop megastar had to postone his U.S. concerts date this month, due to legal troubles over the use of the name "Rain": Singer Rain Postpones US Concerts. Rain Corporation, a music company, filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against Rain, his former management agency JYP Entertainment, Ltd. and concert organizer Star M Entertainment over the use of the name "Rain." Looks like Rain's plans for world domination will have to wait. Meanwhile, Stephen Colbert continues his hilarious "feud" with Rain: 06.05.2007 RE: Rain

Speaking of Korean heartthrobs, here's a Los Angeles Times article on Daniel Henney, the American hapa guy who has become an insanely popular actor in South Korea: A most unlikely Seoul sensation. I suppose it doesn't hurt that he's remarkably good-looking.

In the reality TV realm, we've got a few folks representing... on Fox's So You Think You Can Dance, 24-year-old Hok is back this season (he couldn't make it through in season two, due to a student visa issue), and has made it into the top twenty finalists. How good of a dancer is he? Watch this YouTube clip. Pretty damn good.

On Bravo's culinary competition series Top Chef 3, there's Hung and Sara N., both vying to prove they've got what it takes to rule the kitchen.

And finally on the other cooking show, Fox's insanely annoying Hell's Kitchen, there's Aaron, a 48-year-old retirement home chef from Palos Verdes, California. He's one of twelve chef wannabes enduring extraordinary verbal abuse from show's jerk head chef, somehow thinking it's worth it for the sake of bad television. If you'e seen the commercials, you know Aaron is kind of a walking disaster. Unfortunately, he'll probably be forever known as the guy who can't stop crying.

new orleans' vietnamese american community

Over the weekend, Dateline aired a segment on the Vietnamese American community in New Orleans who have bounced back since the devastation of Hurricane Katrina two years ago: Postcard from New Orleans. Anchor Stone Phillips' got invited along with a vanful of Vietnamese Americans who were going to celebrate the lunar new year. Here's his behind-the-scenes blog entry on the story: THE VIETNAMESE-AMERICAN COMMUNITY RECOVERS AFTER KATRINA. And here's Dateline producer Tommy Nguyen's blog entry on his part in the reporting: ARMED WITH MY FIRST-GRADE VIETNAMESE AND A DIGITAL VIDEO CAMERA. Considering the sheer magnitude of the disaster, this community's story is pretty remarkable.


theatrical release for finishing the game

It looks like director Justin Lin's indie labor of love Finishing the Game has a distributor and a theatrical release date... The movie just popped up on IFC Films' schedule to screen in limited release at the IFC Film Center in New York City starting October 17, 2007, with more dates and cities likely to follow. I think IFC is a pretty good match for the film. It doesn't quite have the reach and muscle of one of the bigger studios, but it has a good indie vibe that'll be able to give Finishing the Game the attention it deserves. When I spoke to Justin a couple of weeks ago, he said he was trying to work out a possible multi-picture arrangement with IFC, which would be hugely beneficial and just plain smart. Distribution is not an easy game.

As for Finishing the Game's next stop on the film festival circuit: Opening Night at the 30th Asian American International Film Festival in New York. The movie doesn't have an official website yet (I suggest keeping an eye on youoffendmeyouoffendmyfamily.com) but it does currently have a very yellow MySpace page.

outpost: asian canadians reframed

Canadaaaaa. I was going to post this weeks ago, but it sunk to the bottom of my in-box... Noreen tells me that she and fellow students from the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University in Canada are working on an art project, Outpost: Asian Canadians Reframed. Its purpose is to create awareness of Asian Canadian issues and to promote a community dialogue on perceptions of Asian Canadians They're conducting a survey on common perceptions of Asian people in Canada, and intend to produce a photo exhibition showcasing the responses. It's a pretty short survey, so why not help them out? They're hoping to get responses not just from people in Canada, because the questions could easily pertain to the broader spectrum of Asian North Americans... Take the survey here. Learn more about the project here.

last chance for the vangs

There is a significant community movement rallying around the Vangs, a Hmong American family in Michigan who face deportment after spending 18 years in the United States. They own a successful restaurant in Dearborn, but Guy and Genevieve Vang may soon find their days in the United States numbered.

They escaped from Laos as children, immigrated to France, and eventually made their way to America where they their planted roots and sought asylum. But it turns out, they couldn't technically seek asylum because they were already French citizens—by U.S. standards, they had a "safe harbor" in France.

Unfortunately, it took the INS their damn sweet time—more than a decade—to figure out the Vangs shouldn't be allowed to stay. Here's an article from back in April, with background on their situation: Business: Family's business future at stake.

A few weeks ago, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals denied the family's case to remain in the United States. After a long fight to stay in the country -- it's lasted for several years -- it seems that the Vangs have pretty much exhausted all of their legal options with the INS.

Thus, a petition has been started to implore Senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, as well as U.S. Representatives Sander Levin and John Dingell, to intervene on the family's behalf: Let the Vang Family Stay!. This could be their last hope to stay in the country, or else lose the lives they've built for themselves over the last eighteen years.

support the quincy 4

This just got forwarded along to me, about the trial of the "Quincy 4." Some of you might be familiar with the case, which I've discussed here a few times. The case starts today, June 18th. Community activists are asking folks to show their support for the Quincy 4 by filling the courtroom. Here are all the details, along with some background information for those who unfamiliar with the case:
The Quincy 4 case starts on MONDAY – June 18th. We need your help again: show your support for the Quincy 4 by filling the courtroom. We need to make a strong show of support for the Quincy 4 and send a clear message that these abuses will not be tolerated, and to demand that these victims of police brutality will be cleared of all false charges! Join us in fill-the-courthouse to show solidarity for these 4 victims! (information below) Contact me directly at lisette@cpaboston.org or 617-970-0052. Encourage your friends to come also!

We are signing people up for shifts from 9am-1pm and 2pm-5:00 pm, for Monday 6/18, Tuesday 6/19, and Wednesday 6/20.

Monday June 18th
-- Morning 9:00am-1:00pm
-- Afternoon 2:00pm-5:00pm

Tuesday June 19th
-- Morning 9:00am-1:00pm
-- Afternoon 2:00pm-5:00pm

Wednesday June 20th
-- Morning 9:00am-1:00pm
-- Afternoon 2:00pm-5:00pm

Quincy District Court
1 Dennis Ryan Parkway, Quincy Center
(Red Line to Quincy Center)


The four young Chinese American victims (Karen, Quan, Tat, and Howard) were coming home from a Chinese engagement party on the night of April 30, 2006. They were first questioned by a state trooper near the Super 88 Market. While standing and talking to the state trooper, a Quincy police car pulled up. Without warning, a police officer jumped out and pepper-sprayed three of them directly in the eyes at close range.

Karen, who is just over five feet tall, was tackled by three male officers; receiving a black eye, a swollen face, and bruises from the attack. Another victim was knocked unconscious. Throughout the incident, the police officers repeatedly yelled at the victims, used profanities, and called them derogatory names. The four were then taken to the police station in handcuffs and falsely charged with resisting arrest and/or disorderly conduct. They now have a criminal record detrimental to their futures and could face jail sentences if convicted. Karen Chen and Joanna Ng, a witness to the incident, have filed formal complaints of police misconduct with the Quincy Police Department.

The Quincy Police took the four innocent Asian Americans to the police station in handcuffs and falsely charged them with resisting arrest and/or disorderly conduct. If convicted, they may face jail sentences of up to 2.5 years and a criminal record detrimental to their future.

Over 150 people attended the first community meeting that was held on May 21, 2006 in show of support and solidarity for the Quincy 4. Since that first meeting, Karen Chen and Joanna Ng, a witness to the incident, have filed formal complaints with the Quincy Police Department about the police misconduct. The complaint is now being investigated by the FBI.
If you're in the area and free this week, consider coming out to the Quincy courthouse and showing your support! Fill the courthouse! Free the Quincy 4!

UPDATE: For the latest information and announcements on the trial, and how you can get involved (fill the courtroom!), visit Quincy4.com and Myspace.com/thequincy4. Or contact: justice@cpaboston.org / 617-357-4499. They need your packing the courtroom for the rest of this week, both in the mornings and afternoons.

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