asianweek is shutting down

Whoa. Just got word that this Friday will be AsianWeek's last issue. Yes, AsianWeek -- the self-described "Voice of Asian America" -- the oldest and largest English language newspaper serving the Asian/Pacific Islander American community is ceasing regular newspaper publication immediately. Here's a note from the publishers:

flower drum song selected for national film registry

I just heard from filmmaker Arthur Dong, who sits on the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences' National Film Preservation Board, that Flower Drum Song, the classic 1961 film version of Rodgers and Hamerstein's musical, has been selected by the Academy to be placed on the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress.

For each title named for the prestigious annual list, the Library of Congress's Packard Campus of the National Audio-Visual Conservation Center works to ensure that the film is preserved for future generations. Flower Drum Song is now on the list of films to be preserved by the Academy Archive. Here's what Arthur in his nomination:
"Flower Drum Song" 1961: This film version of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical was the first film from a major Hollywood studio that featured an all-Asian cast performed by mostly Asian actors. Up to this point, Hollywood productions often cast white actors in yellowface. It starred two of Hollywood's most prolific and well-known Asian American actors, Nancy Kwan and James Shigeta. For almost 50 years, this film has represented an unparalleled and unprecedented milestone for both the film industry and the Asian American community. During it's first decades of release, it was the first time that many Americans were given a picture of Chinatown beyond the exotic tourist facades. No film since "Flower Drum Song" has had such a major and lasting impact on projecting a three-dimensional portrait of Asia America. The film garnered five Oscar nominations, and was choreographer Hermes Pans last production (I think). The film is currently on the list for preservation at the Academy Archive.
Despite its flaws, I really get a kick out of this film. It's just this great piece of classic guilty pleasure musical, and a milestone for Asian American cinema. It's great to see it make the registry. The 25 films that made this year's National Film Registry, include The Killers, Deliverance and The Terminator(?!): 'The Terminator,' 'Deliverance' Chosen for National Film Registry. View the full list here.

always remember: get the money upfront

This is a story about one Asian guy behaving badly... and a bunch of other folks behaving like good human beings. A crazy true story involving three cab drivers, a crooked gambler, and a all-night cab ride from Detroit to Washington D.C.: A Trio of Detroit Cabdrivers Takes a Christmas Eve Gamble.

president pardons merchant who sold fake watches

Among the individuals on President George W. Bush's clemency list: 66-year-old James Won Hee Kang, who was pardoned last week and had his name cleared after being arrested for selling cheap knock-off watches in Chicago nearly 25 years ago: Maxwell Street merchant pardoned man for selling 'toy' Rolexes in 1984.

Kang, who arrived in the United States as a student in 1974, was running a stand at the Maxwell Street Market when an undercover Chicago police officer stopped by in October 1984 and purchased some fake Rolex and Omega watches. He was charged in U.S. District Court with one count trafficking in counterfeit goods, and sentenced to a year's probation.

He pleaded guilty and paid a $5,000 fine, and records show he was released from probation in good standing just a month later. Kang thought that would be the end of it. But future background checks turned up the old charge, making it difficult for his otherwise honest professional life. All this trouble over some knockoff watches.

Kang applied for the pardon in 2002, in order to clear his name and his record. Six years later, it looks like he got a pretty nice Christmas gift from the President.

coming soon: dramafever.com

Heads up, drama fans. DramaFever.com is a new online video on-demand site featuring licensed content from Asian media companies, with particular emphasis on TV dramas. They've haven't fully launched yet, and are still trying to fine tune it, but I got a sneak preview of the beta site, and it looks pretty good.

If you're in the Korean dramas, or are interested in dabbling the drama craze, DramaFever is offering a pretty solid service, with fast, high-quality video and even English subtitles. Right now, they've got ten of the most popular Korean dramas from recent years, with much more to be added in the coming weeks and months. I just spent an entire day watching ten episodes of My Lovely Samsoon.

They'll be sending out beta invitations in the beginning of January. You, my valued readers, can get access faster than the general public by registering on DramaFever.com and using 'angryasianman' as a priority code. I know there are some serious drama-crazy fans out there, so you might want to give the site a try.

stephen chow could be out of the green hornet?

We found out a few weeks back that Stephen Chow would not be directing the Green Hornet movie, as previously announced, but he would still star as Kato. Turns out, however, that he might not actually have time to play Kato either.

Chow recently said that he wants to free up time to work with Jack Black on a comedy about a superhero: Stephen Chow Might Not be Kato Either? He wants to make a superhero comedy based on an original idea sooner than later, while the timing is right.

Whether he stays on to play Kato in The Green Hornet apparently depends on his schedule. I really really really hope he finds time to play Kato. In my mind, for this project, there is no one more perfect for the role. We shall see.

interview with author david yoo

You all know I really loved David Yoo's most recent novel, Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before. It's just really funny, well-written young adult novel about an Asian American teen with your basic Asian American teen woes. Think 1980s John Hughes movies, except the Asian guy gets to play the Anthony Michael Hall characters—not Long Duk Dong. I really wish there were books like this when I was growing up.

Anyway, here's a short but good Interview with Author David Yoo over on the book blog Superfast Reader. (It's helpful if you've actually read the book before reading the interview. And if you haven't picked up Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before, get it now. To learn more about the book, go here. And check out David's blog here.

street fighter: the legend of chun li japanese trailer

An official Japanese trailer for Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li has surfaced on the internet. Based on the popular video game, it stars Kristin Kreuk as Chun Li, fighting all sorts of crazy characters... on the street. This is not to be confused with the 1994 movie starring Jean Claude Van Damme, based on the same video game.

I'm not expecting much out of this movie, but this trailer isn't terrible. It certainly isn't half as bad as that awful Dragonball trailer that popped up earlier this month. I'm sure we'll see a North American trailer soon. Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li is scheduled for release on February 27, 2009.

the changing face of fullerton

Yet another one of these Los Angeles Times articles on the burgeoning Asian American population in some Southern California suburban community or another... this time, it's the Orange County city of Fullerton, which has become a destination for Asian Americans -- particularly Korean Americans: Korean Americans find a home in Fullerton.

According to U.S. Census data, the Asian population in every city with available data in Orange County has gone up. Fullerton is now 21% Asian American -- a 35% jump since 2000. The increase puts Fullerton among the cities with the fastest growing Asian American populations in Southern California.

And as the population in Fullerton shifts, so does the community's amenities and economy. Some immigrants are apparently coming straight from Korea and settling in Fullerton, after hearing from friends and relatives that "Fullerton is the No. 1 city for Koreans," according to one resident. I'm extremely curious to see what this community will look like in another ten years.

hbs4a scholarship program

For the fourth consecutive year, the Harvard Business School Asian American Alumni Association (HBS 4A Club) will be sponsoring a full tuition, room, board and materials scholarship for a nonprofit organizations executive director to attend the six-day Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management program at HBS this July.

Do you know of any nonprofit organizations that benefit the Asian American community? (I can think of, oh, about four dozen.) If so, encourage the organization's Executive Director to consider spending a week at Harvard to sharpen and develop their leadership skills and learn strategies to make their organizations more effective.

Last year's HBS4A Scholarship recipient was Thoai Nguyen, Executive Director of the Southeast Asian Mutual Assistance Association. Other previous recipients include the New York Asian Women's Center in 2006 and the Chinese Community Center in Houston in 2007.

If you know of any worthy Asian American nonprofit organization whose executive director could benefit from this program, direct them to the HBS4A scholarship website for more information on how to apply.

john pham's sublife

After hearing several recommendations, I finally picked up and read the first volume of John Pham's graphic novel Sublife. It's awesome. Beautifully and simply drawn, the art reminds a lot of Chris Ware's Acme Novelty Library. I wish I had picked up sooner, because it's an amazing piece of work.

It's sort of hard to describe, except that it features a cast of odd, quirky characters—including a bitter old school teacher, a boy who wears a sheet over his entire upper body, a cokehead club girl, and a pair of white supremacists with an attack dog—all living in rented house, in a series of linked vignettes.

It's an amazing piece of work, and I can't wait to read the next one... though I'm told that I'll probably be waiting a while for it. In the meantime, do check out the first volume of Sublife. To learn more about the book, go to the Fantagraphics website here.

apa for progress inaugural celebration

For those of you planning to attend the inauguration in Washington D.C. next month, consider attending the AAPI Grassroots Gala and Afterparty, presented by Asian Pacific Americans for Progress PAC.

It's an evening of celebration to honor the inaugural year of the Asian American Civic Project, celebrate APA political leaders, and to help sustain the APA grassroots movement that made history with the election of President-Elect Obama. Here's some more info:
Asian Pacific Americans for Progress PAC Presents
The AAPI Grassroots Gala and Afterparty

Come join your fellow grassroots activists as we celebrate our achievements, recognize our leaders and look towards the future! All proceeds will benefit APAP PAC's activities, including the Civic Project.

DATE: January 20, 2009

TIME: 8 p.m. to closing

PLACE: Perry's Restaurant
1811 Columbia Road
Washington, D.C. 20009

AAPI Grassroots Gala (8 p.m. to 11 p.m.)
Celebrating our grassroots leaders
Advance Sale Ticket: $125 (good through Jan. 9th)

Post-Gala After-Party (midnight to closing)
Featuring Ashu Rai and DJ Bobby, Resident DJs for the NYC-based Desilicious parties
Advance Sale Ticket: $50 (good through Jan. 9th)

Please note, there will also be an exclusive Pre-Gala VIP Cocktail Reception from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., celebrating the inaugural year of the Civic Project. Tickets for this event are $250. A limited number of All Access Passes (tickets to the Gala, the Cocktail Reception and After-Party) are available for $325, as well as special host committee packages for $500. For more info, please email APAPinauguration@gmail.com.
It looks like it's going to be a pretty fancy event, but hey, it's a historic occasion that deserves some celebration. All proceeds from the event will benefit APAP's activities, including the Asian American Civic Project for the 2009 election cycle. To purchase tickets to the event, go here. To learn more about APA for Progress, go

UPDATE: Were you involved with any political campaigns this year? Asian Pacific Americans for Progress is gathering any images that you may have from the 2008 campaign season, whether it was Obama or any other progressive candidate or proposition. They'll be putting together a highlight reel, to be played at the AAPI Grassroots Gala on January 20th in DC. Send your images (jpgs or tiffs) or videso (.wmv) to Matt Chea at mattchea@gmail.com ASAP. The deadline to contribute is January 3. If they use your image, you'll receive a copy of the commemorative DVD.

lonnie's coffee shoppe sign looking for a new home

You may remember hearing a while back about the old Lonnie's Coffee Shoppe sign, a piece of history that had found a place on the wall inside U-Choose Express, a noodle shop in New York's Chinatown: It's a Sign, Evoking Memories of Lonnie's in Chinatown. More here: Preserving Chinatown's doo-wop era.

Sadly, U-Choose is no more, and has been replaced by a new restaurant, Pho 21. The old Lonnie's sign apparently doesn't fit with the new restaurant's decor, and now needs a new place to hang: The lonnie's coffee shoppe sign looks for a new home. Maybe someone out there has a good place for it, or knows of a cool museum that would be appropriate for the sign.

kim jong il on shoe throwing

By now, you've seen the awesome video footage of our President being attacked by an irate Iraqi man's shoes, and demonstrating some serious duck/dodge skillz. Whatever. That's nothing. Kim Jong Il knows shoe throwing. And he knows how to deal with such insolence.

Check out comedian Danny Cho as everybody's favorite North Korean dictator, dispensing some serious knowledge about the state of his country: KIM JONG IL on Shoe Throwing. Famine, economic hardship and concentration camps have never been so hilarious.

city pages artists of the year: sun mee chomet and bao phi

Some news out of Minnesota... I just heard from spoken word artist Bao Phi, who informs me that he and fellow local artist Sun Mee Chomet have been selected by David Mura for the City Pages Artists of the Year Issue 2008.

For non-Minnesotans like myself, City Pages is kind of like Minneapolis' version of The Village Voice or The Stranger. It's really nice write-up, talking not only about these two talented local artists, but also their place in the state of Asian American performance as a whole. Read it here.

civil servant loses job amid espionage fears

This sucks. In Canada, a civil servant has been removed from her job inside the federal government amid concerns about "Chinese espionage," after spending several years in what was pretty much job bureaucracy limbo: Espionage fears cost woman second civil-service job.

In 2003, Haiyan Zhang was denied "Top Secret" status and escorted from her job as an analyst in the Privy Council Office. Then, a few months ago, after toiling in a less sensitive job, she was stripped of her "reliability status" and dismissed from Service Canada, a relatively obscure marketing agency within the government.

Internal memos apparently reveal 13-step federal action plan ("process for decision-making") to revoke her reliability status and remove her from the civil service once and for all. All this, because intelligence officials couldn't get over the fact that Zhang had once worked as a reporter for Xinhua, Beijing's state-run news service.

Alas, she was a victim of growing fears about Chinese spies operating in Canada. Ms. Zhang was never actually openly accused of any act of wrongdoing. Nor was she really fired. She was left to rot in perpetual limbo. What's up with that? Accuse her of something, or don't. At least give her that courtesy.


the vox merger's "reasons"

I recently heard from Anthony Kim, aka Akim (not to be confused with the pro golfer), who informs me that he's in the final stages of completing an album with his group, The Vox Merger. It features folks like Chan, Bambu of the Native Guns, and production by Illmind. I'm looking forward to hearing it.

In the meantime, check out the recently released video for their lead single "Reasons," directed by Todd Angkasuwan. I'm diggin' it. The album should be dropping sometime in early 2009. To learn more about The Vox Merger, go here, or visit their MySpace page here.

bill richardson being investigated by grand jury

Uh oh. Bad news for New Mexico governor Bill Richardson, Obama's controversial pick for Secretary of Commerce. Rod Blagojevich is not the only governor getting mixed up pay-to-play allegations: Now, feds probe Gov. Richardson of Obama Cabinet for 'pay-to-play'.

Richardson is apparently also being investigated by a federal grand jury in his home state for possibly steering state bond business from the New Mexico Financial Authority toward David Rubin, a significant campaign contributor. More here: Grand Jury Investigates Richardson Contributor.

Not directly Asian American news related, but I'm sure there are some folks out there, still feeling the sting over Richardson's involvement in the Wen Ho Lee debacle, who are pretty happy about this turn of events.

northwestern loses the alamo bowl in overtime

I've got to give some love to my team, the Northwestern Wilcats who just lost to the University of Missouri in the Alamo Bowl: Wildcats Lose Alamo Bowl In OT, 30-23. It was painfully close loss in overtime. Ouch. NU hasn't won in a bowl game since 1949. I guess this wasn't our year. Again.

That said, they played a solid 9-4 season. Much of the team's success is do to senior quarterback C.J. Bacher. Much props to him for holding it down and representing. It was a good year, Wildcats. Alas, another bowl game disappointment. There's always next year...

apia vote's "moving the dream forward"

For those of you headed to Washington D.C. for Barack Obama's inauguration next month, there are several interesting and important events happening for Asian Pacific Americans. Here's one of them: Moving the Dream Forward, a series of morning briefings that will help our communities coordinate and coalesce, presented by APIA Vote. Monday, January 19 at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. Here are some details:

An APIAVote Briefing on:
Elections, Transition, and Policy

Date: Monday, January 19, 2009

Location: Mandarin Oriental Hotel
1330 Maryland Ave SW
Washington, D.C. 20024

Time: 8:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

Join APIAVote in Washington, D.C. during Inaugural Week! Held in conjunction with the Pearl Presidential Inaugural Ball, "Moving the Dream Forward" will consist of morning briefings that will help our communities coordinate and coalesce, as we again visit the theme of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech. On the eve of the historic inauguration of President Barack Obama, APIAVote will be hosting a debrief on the 2008 Election; contextualize and explain the transition process; help frame the AAPI policy agenda(s) as we move forward with the new White House, the agencies, and a new Congress; and host a panel and discussion on how we work together to move a progressive AAPI policy agenda forward.
Here's the schedule. Topics include AAPIs' Roles in the 2008 Election, A History of AAPIs in the Transition Process, Framing the AAPI Policy Agenda, and Continuing a Progressive AAPI Movement. Registration for the briefing is $60, and $40 for students and seniors. Register here. For those who won't be in D.C. and can't attend the briefing, there will be a live online webcast, for a fee of $5.00. Technology! For more information about the whole shebang, go here.

a geisha for your pocket

What is up with this stupid-ass iPhone application? Now you can have your very own geisha! Check it out: GEISHA. According to the description: "Keep Geisha in your pocket all the time! Geisha will start dancing in accordance with the sound of Shamisen when you clap your hands." Sheesh.

You've got to be kidding me. This is not only the most useless iPhone application ever created, it's also basically a handheld-sized exotic Oriental fantasy... for your pocket. How convenient! Enjoy yourselves, weirdos. That's racist!

2009 asian men redefined calendar

Well, oh my. Saw this over on the Hyphen Blog... I know more than a few of you out there will be interested to know that the 2009 Asian Men Redefined Calendar is now available. That's right, baby. Bolder, smarter, sexier—365 days of Asian male hotness. 12 months, 12 models showing their stuff on glossy 12"x12" full color, with photos by Dannydan.

Best of all, the calendar is primarily a charity volunteer effort, with proceeds going to the Asian & Pacific Islander Wellness Center, the oldest nonprofit HIV/AIDS services organization in North America serving API communities. You know you want it. As one female reader put it, "Rawrrr." I think you get the idea. To learn more, and purchase the calendar, go here.

guess what: there's a chinese american museum in l.a.

This is a pretty interesting story on the Chinese American Museum in Los Angeles, which marks its fifth anniversary this month, but still maintains a relatively low profile, largely due to its odd, unlikely location—a corner of El Pueblo de Los Angeles, the historical park featuring reminders of the city's Mexican American heritage: Chinese American Museum nods to past, looks to future.

The El Pueblo site is most famous as L.A.'s birthplace, where pioneers from Mexico having arrived in 1781. Nearly a century later, it became the home of Southern California's first Chinatown. (It was the scene of a deadly anti-Chinese riot in 1871.) Eventually, it became the site of a museum.

The problem is that museum sits in the site of the city's original Chinatown, but isn't at the heart of the community, which is either in current Chinatown or the San Gabriel Valley. How do you create a Chinese American museum for all of them? Something that expands beyond a place for just "accidental visitors"? That's the challenge that the museum intends to tackle.

digital cribs' chayse and jerry

Check out this is neat little five-minute documentary, Chayse and Jerry directed by Janice Ahn, on Asian Amerian actor Jerry Ying and his relationship with his daughter Chayse. It's about how Jerry, who is frequently away from home and on-the-go, relies on networking technology and video conferencing to keep connected to his 3-year-old daughter. I liked it.

The film is playing on Cisco's Digital Cribs platform, a series about "the human network and how we use consumer technology in new and exciting ways." (So basically, it's a commercial for Cisco, subtly couched in an interesting little human story.) Anyway, view it here.

his friends call him "wok"

Here's another article on the background and heritage of Don Wakamatsu, who was named last month as the manager of the Seattle Mariners and is the very first major league manager of Asian descent: Seattle Manager Hopes What He Does Highlights Who He Is.

Though he only had a brief stint as a major league player—18 games as backup catcher for the Chicago White Sox in 1991—he can proudly say that he played baseball at every level. And he seems to understand the significance of his heritage as the first Asian American coach in the sport.

Wakamatsu also comes from an interesting family background. His grandparents were relocated to the internment camp at Tule Lake during World War II. His father was born in that camp. It's a great article, so check it out. It definitely makes feel even better about this milestone for major league baseball.

randall park in "project: direct" short blueberry

For those who have wondered what $73 will buy you... Comedian/actor/musician Randall Park sent me this extremely silly video he and some friends made for Sundance/YouTube's Project: Direct competition. Starring Randall Park and Marques Ray, and directed by David J. Lee. And edited and shot by my buddy Vincent Tsu. Watch it here: PROJECT: DIRECT 2009 - "blueberry."

The rules were that they had to use a red phone, and two items chosen from a list of 25 props. Randall and his team chose a beehive hairdo and an orange thong. The results were... interesting and ridiculous. Warning: I am not responsible for the sensibilities offended by $73 prostitutes.

ups driver enters sikh man's name as "terrorist"

Saw this over on Consumerist. Just another moment from good ol' racist America... In Bakersfield, California, a UPS driver apparently wrote "terrorist" as the signed name for a delivered package that went to the home of a Sikh man's house: UPS Driver Used "Terrorist" As Name Signed For Package.

Blbar Singh's family was looking on the UPS website for their second package that had not yet come, when they came across the "signed by" section of the package screen. Lo and behold! The UPS delivery guy had renamed the Singh family into something more to his liking. That's racist!

Stupid. UPS has since changed the "signed by" name on their website from "terrorist" to "Singh." A UPS spokesperson said that they hire several people to assist during the holiday season and is currently in the process of investigating this matter. Somebody, please, fire this idiot driver.

smuggling of chinese illegal immigrants on the rise

According to this story, recent busts by immigration authorities in Houston seem to indicate an upswing in attempts to illegally smuggle Chinese citizens into and through the region in the past six months: Smuggling of Chinese into Texas is on the rise.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents are deporting five Chinese citizens after the interception of a private plane that flew this month to Wharton from the Texas-Mexico border loaded with the immigrants.

This is just one incident out of several that have occurred in the last few months. The local increase seems to mirror a nationwide jump in illegal Chinese immigrants in the U.S. this decade—49 percent since 2000. And with it... the anti-immigrant rhetoric. You know it's happening.


kollaboration 9 promo trailer

Check out this fantastic promo trailer for Kollaboration 9, featuring a roomful of really talented musicians—David Choi, Kina Grannis, Jazmin and Jane Lui—singing a collaborative rendition of Chris Brown's "Forever."

They'll all be appearing, along with a bunch of other really talented performers, at the world-famous, original Asian American talent show Kollaboration, February 21, 2009 at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. For more information, go here, and buy your tickets here.

judy chu is running for congress

A very interesting political race is starting to brew in Southern California... This week, Judy Chu, chairwoman of the state Board of Equalization, announced her intention to run for the congressional seat left vacant by Hilda Solis, who was recently named as President-elect Barack Obama's secretary of labor: Solis' House seat draws interest of prominent politicians.

However, State Senator Gloria Romero also said publicly last week that she was interested in pursuing the seat. And who know who else might want to throw their hat into the race? The race to replace the seat could turn out to be a competition between veteran politicians representing the district's two largest ethnic groups: Latinos and Asians.

From what I know, I think Chu has a pretty solid chance. A politician with years of local and state experience, she has a solid reputation and some major support for the seat. It's still pretty early, and the position technically isn't even open yet. But it would definitely be very cool to see.

twin armada

I recently heard from a reader named Quang Nguyen, who tells me about the start-up business he works for, Twin Armada, a clothing company geared towards Asian Americans, inspired by oversea fashions found in Asia. Their collection isn't huge, but they've got some pretty cool stuff.

They've been in business for about a year, and recently relaunched the company's website. Take a look at their fashions and newly designed site here. Order something for the holidays and get 10% off. Personally, I really like the Korean Captain Hat.

sam yoon making a run for mayor

In Boston, two-term City Councilor Sam Yoon has been increasingly sending signals that he intends to run for mayor. The latest evidence: in an end of the year fundraising appeal sent to relatives and friends, the councilor's wife, Christina, wrote that she has been inspired by her husband to help him raise the cash needed to "move up in Boston's political world": Signs point to mayoral run by Yoon.

Could the Councilor be gearing up for a mayoral race? He hasn't officially announced such intentions. But he, and several other potential opponents, have been raising money like crazy, and staking out positions on politically potent issues. So far, Yoon has brought in thousands of dollars from out of state, but trails his opponents significantly with just under $63,300 in the bank.

The fund-raising appeal, in which his wife set a personal goal of raising $10,000 by the end of the year, is an indication Yoon realizes he needs to make a decent showing in the first campaign finance reports of 2009 if he is to appear competitive against his opponents.

Yoon made headlines in 2005 when became the first Asian American to hold elected office in Boston. Could he become the city's first Asian American mayor? It certainly looks like he's going to try. Learn more about Sam Yoon (and donate) at his website here. The municipal election is in November 2009.

yes, they eat cats in china

Oh Lord. The Los Angeles Times has a story on the practice of eating cats in Guangzhou, China. Yeah, that's right. Eating cats: Chinese seek to pull cats from the menu. Ack, another article that's sure to draw the ire of the China haters out there. Because, let's face it—nobody wants to think about cute little kitties getting eaten.

I'm always kind of torn by stories like this. On the one hand, I always have the angry knee-jerk reaction to jokes and stereotypes about Asians cooking up cats in the back of Chinese restaurants. The insinuation is that such restaurants—and by extension, Chinese people—are inherently dirty, strange and exotic.

But in the face of articles like this, you can't deny it: they eat cats in Guangdong. And they cook 'em up good. And I'll admit, that grosses me out a little. Then again, I also have to ask, so what? How is this more or less humane or disgusting than the practice of eating any other animal? Who am I to judge?

However, as the article reports, eating cats has become increasingly socially unacceptable for many Chinese, and there's a significant movement amongst activist cat-lovers in the country to stop the cat trade in Guandong. Seems to me that there are more people who want to save the cats than eat them.


bambu's "crooks & rooks"

Indie filmmaker Patricio Ginelsa, one seriously hard-working director, informs me about the video premiere for "Crooks & Rooks" by hip hop artist Bambu (of Native Guns). Cool video, cool song. Nice work, Patricio. (There's also an extended, uncensored version of the video here, but you need the secret password.) The song is off Bambu's latest album Exact Change. To learn more about Bambu, go to his website here, or his MySpace profile here.

crushing cars and automobile aggresssion

It's funny our nation's anxieties over its failing automobile industry have a way of manifesting themselves in the form of racism and xenophobia. Anytime U.S. automakers seem to be in a bad state, the rhetoric starts flying, and people want somewhere and someone to place the frustration-fueled blame. It happened in the early 1980s, and it's happening again.

We've already heard about this idiot Ford dealer in Georgia with racist radio ads insulting "rice ready" cars. Now there's also news of the Chevrolet dealer in Hawaii who pulled a car-crushing stunt, which featured an SUV driving over and crushing—you guessed it—foreign cars. A Honda and a Hyundai, to be exact: Hawaii Chevrolet dealer crushes auto competition.

Island Chevrolet general sales manager James Severtson had a Chevrolet Suburban SUV outfitted with massive tires to drive over a Honda Accord. The funny thing, in its first attempt to crush the car, the monster truck blew a hydraulic hose, leaking fluid while the Honda remained intact. Turns out those cars a little tougher than you thought.

In the SUV's second attempt, a few repairs and several hours later, it drove over the Accord and a Hyundai Excel parked next to it, going over the cars' hoods and destroying the windshields... much to the cheering crowd's delight.

You know, I seem to recall a scene like this the documentary Who Killed Vincent Chin? They had news footage of an eerily similar event, where participants were encouraged to take baseball bats and demolish Japanese cars. It's been a while since I've seen the film, but I don't think I imagined that.

There's some serious aggression bubbling up here. As I've noted before, it's rhetoric like this, in hard economic times like these, that can lead to an Asian American guy getting his head bashed in with a baseball bat. It happened in 1983. I fear it's only a matter of time before it happens again.


san francisco police chief heather fong to retire

Over the weekend, San Francisco Police Chief Heather Fong, who rose through the ranks to become the city's first female chief nearly five years ago, announced her retirement from the force on the mayor's radio program. She plans to step down in April: S.F. police chief announces retirement.

It hasn't been an easy road for her, and as chief she's had to face her share of criticism. But there's no doubt that Fong's a pioneer, with 32 years of service in the force, and as the nation's first Asian Amerian woman to lead a major city's police department. Much respect.

john cho as mandarin in next iron man?

Entertainment Weekly reports on a highly dubious casting rumor that John Cho might play the Mandarin, the villain in the next Iron Man movie: Iron Man 2' 'casting' 'rumor': John Cho as the Mandarin?

It's a stupid story, and making it even stupider is this line: "Cho, having appeared as both Harold and Sulu, will make the Asian geek trifecta with this role as the power-ring-wearing, power-mad villain." Did the writer really have to go there?

I wouldn't put too much credence in this news. Like a lot of casting rumors that have been floating around the web lately, this one was probably made up by someone with some wishful thinking and too much time on their hands.

That said, I think he wouldn't make a bad Mandarin, assuming that Favreau and Co. will not be going with the traditional Fu Manchu/Yellow Peril representation of the character, and hopefully try to do something new and different. Who knows? It's really too soon to tell.

aaron takahashi and vivian bang in yes man

The new comedy Yes Man, starring Jim Carrey, was number one this weekend at the box office. I mentioned after seeing the trailer that Vivian Bang is in the movie during a scene where Carrey speaks some extremely unintelligible Korean: Carrey dabbles in Korean in 'Yes Man'.

I also just noticed that Aaron Takahashi, in the photo above, has a role the movie too. If you've seen him performing with the sketch comedy troupe Cold Tofu, you know he's a pretty funny dude. But my favorite Aaron moment is this commercial for Amp'd Mobile. Classic.

nuns sue couple over stinky fish

Nuns who own a New York city apartment house have filed a lawsuit saying a tenant couple is stinking up the building with "horrible" food smells "similar to that of vomit or rotten meat." The alleged ungodly smell? Dried fish: Nuns sue NYC tenants over 'vomit-like' food smells.

The Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart Inc. are accusing Gloria and Michael Lim of causing "foul and harmful odors" to come from their sixteenth floor apartment by cooking and smoking large quantities of fish.

The smell was apparently so "foul" and "noxious" to the sisters, the thought there was actually a dead body inside the apartment. Their lawsuit asks that the Lims be required to stop causing the odors and pay legal fees and damages of at least $50,000. More here: Nuns forced to sue over unholy stink.

Get over it. I say the couple has every right to smoke and dry all the fish they want. It's just smelly fish frying in oil on a stove top. Hell yeah. It's good stuff. It may stink, but it's food, and they have every right to enjoy it. Next, they'll be coming after your kimchee! And that's just not right.

keanu reeves as spike spiegel?

It was announced earlier this year that a live-action adaptation of Shinchiro Watanabe's classic anime Cowboy Bebop was apparently in the works. Like most of the anime adaptations that Hollywood is currently taking on, I'm highly skeptical about this... especially now that I've heard who's working on it: Keanu.

Keanu Reeves recently told MTV that he and his producing partner Erwin Stoff are working on the project, and he'll be playing the part of bounty hunter Spike Spiegel: Keanu Reeves Eager To Do 'Something Good' With 'Cowboy Bebop' Movie.

Cowboy Bebop is freaking awesome. It's one of my favorite anime series. I'd just really hate to see it unnecessarily meddled with. In some ways, I can see Keanu making a decent Spike, and in other ways, I'm convinced it's a terrible idea. I don't know. I suppose it's too early to tell. For now, I highly recommend checking out the original Cowboy Bebop series on DVD.

dumbfoundead vs. tantrum

A bunch of folks have been writing into me about this video... It's a pretty intense emcee battle between two Asian American emcees: Dumbfoundead, hailing from Koreatown, Los Angeles, and Tantrum, from the Bay Area. View part one here. And part two here. For what it's worth, I think Dumbfoundead took it.

blaming the booze

I'm pretty astounded by just how stupid this lawsuit is... A couple from Japan is suing United Airlines for "negligently" overserving alcohol during a flight from Osaka to San Francisco, saying the airline's booze fueled the domestic violence involving the two shortly after their plane landed: Couple accuse United Airlines of overserving husband, causing him to beat wife.

Yeah, you read the headline correctly. The lawsuit, filed earlier this month, claims that alcohol—Burgundy wine, specifically—served by United crew during the December 2006 flight got Yoichi Shimamoto so inebriated "that he could not manage himself."

Shimamoto was arrested, accused of disorderly conduct and battery after he struck his wife, Ayisha, six times, injuring her face and upper lip as they were heading through U.S. Customs in San Francisco.

Although Shimamoto was charged and sentenced to 18 months probation, the couple contend that United ultimately was responsible for his violent outburst. Right. Blame the booze. Blame the crew. Blame everybody but yourself for beating your wife. Ridiculous.

alvin lau in free.will.power spoken word video

NARAL Pro-Choice America recently released a series of web video for its free.will.power initiative, a campaign that aims to take a fresh look at what it means to be pro-choice in America today. Each video features a young, up-and-coming spoken word artist. The video above features Asian American spoken word artist Alvin Lau, with some catchy beats by DJ Spooky. To learn more about the initiative, go here.

save riverside's chinatown

Some news out of Riverside, California... Community activists filed a lawsuit last month seeking to overturn city approval of construction of an office building over the city's second Chinatown on environmental grounds: Lawsuit targets Riverside council's OK of building over old Chinatown.

The proposed development site has been vacant for more than twenty years, but artifacts and the remnants of structures from Chinatown would be buried there. The site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, as a city and county landmark, and as a state point of historical interest.

The lawsuit was filed by the recently formed Save Our Chinatown committee, which says the City Council improperly granted variances for the project and failed to evaluate an alternative location for the building that would minimize the project's environmental impacts. To learn more about the committee's efforts, and find out how you can help, go here.

coming to a bar near you: the bud light immigrants

Oh boy. During last year's Super Bowl, you probably saw the Bud Light commercial starring Carlos Mencia, where he taught a classroom of recent immigrants how to the speak-a-the-English: Class Mencia. Obnoxious. At this year's Super Bowl, you may have seen more have the same: Bud Light Language of Love Commercial. Yeahhh. Elicits groans.

Last week, someone forwarded me a press release promising that we'll be seeing more of these guys. Abdul Goznobi, Willie Amakye, Anjul Nigam, Daniel Cho, Hank Harris are The Bud Light Immigrants. It's says they'll be "coming to a bar near you!" I have no idea what that means. There's booking info and everything. Does that mean they'll be making actual appearances?


david choi smiles

Two years in the making. 77,777 YouTube subscribers later... It has happened. David Choi has done it. Behold: David Choi Smiles!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The singer/songwriter who found a massive following on YouTube vowed that he would not smile on camera before reaching his goal of 77,777 subscribers. Last week, the moment arrived. Long live smiling David Choi.

stephen chow backing out as director of green hornet

Alas. It was an awesome idea, but it looks like things didn't work out... Hong Kong star Stephen Chow will not be directing Sony's upcoming Green Hornet movie, as previously announced. Citing creative differences, Chow has backed out as director of the project: Chow no longer to direct 'Hornet'.

Chow will, however, still star as Kato alongside Seth Rogen, who also wrote the script with this writing partner Evan Goldberg (Superbad). The studio and producer Neal Moritz are in the process of finding a new director for the project, which they hope to start shooting by spring.

This movie, which I have high hopes for, just got a little less awesome. Then again, as cool as it is, maybe Chow's Kung Fu Hustle-style comedy isn't quite the right flavor for Green Hornet. Who knows? Whatever the case, he's certainly still the perfect choice to play Kato.

yo-yo ma to perform at obama's inauguration

Last week, it was announced that famed cellist Yo-Yo Ma has been chosen to be among those performing at President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration ceremony next month: Aretha Franklin, Yo-Yo Ma Tapped for Inauguration Ceremony.

Obama's oath will be preceded by a piece composed by John Williams for or pianist Gabriela Montero, clarinetist Anthony McGill, violinist Itzhak Perlman and Yo-Yo Ma, who apparently has a spot on Obama's iPod: Inside Barack Obama's iPod.


target's "asian yellow" dinnerware

Hey, Target. What's up with this Asian Yellow 16-pc. Dinnerware Set? You really couldn't come up with a better name for this particular shade of yellow? What is exactly is Asian Yellow anyway? Skin color implications aside, it's just the kind of thing you want to stay away from. What's next—Latino Brown? Bad idea. (Thanks, Jacquie.)

UPDATE: It appears that the listing on the Target website has been changed. The "Asian Yellow" dinnerware set is now just "Yellow," and all the user reviews have been deleted. I guess someone at Target must have gotten freaked out.

look to the refrigerator

Talking about refrigerators. Here's an interesting New Yorker piece on Obama's recent pick for Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu, and the lessons that can be learned through refrigerator efficiency: Note to Detroit: Consider the Refrigerator.

As we look to the future, and consider higher energy efficiency standards for the auto industry, let us look at back at the success with efficiency standards that have imposed on refrigerators. Whatever the case, Chu definitely has his work cut out for him.

slumdog millionaire's dev patel nominated for sag award

Nominations for the 15th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards were announced yesterday. Among the nominees, I noticed that Dev Patel was up for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Slumdog Millionaire. Here's the full list of nominees: Nominees for annual Screen Actors Guild Awards.

That's great, and it's cool to see him acknowledged for his work in such a wonderful movie... but what's up with the supporting actor nod? Is he not the lead actor in that movie? I certainly thought he was. Does SAG have some kind of rule, maybe having to with screen time or something, that officially determines who can be up for lead or supporting? It just seems odd.


secret asian man art show

My man Tak Toyoshima, the cartoonist behind Secret Asian Man, tells me about this series of SAM-themed paintings he did for for a recent art show. Check it out: Dicks & Jane. Good stuff. Some of the pieces are still for sale, so take a look.

the $54 million pants lawsuit must die

Time to pack it up, Pearson. It's yet another stake in the heart of the lawsuit that refuses to die. Today in Washington, an appeals court turned down Roy Pearson's request for a new trial: The $54 million pants suit unravels again. You know, the one where he sued Jin Nam and Ki Chung for $54 million over an alleged lost pair of pants? Give it up, sucka.

The D.C. Court of Appeals rejected Pearson's request to overturn last year's ruling that denied him any damages. Pearson argued that Custom Cleaners failed to live up to the promise of "Satisfied Guaranteed" (posted on a sign inside the store). Mr. Pearson, if you haven't already figured out, is also a crazy fool.

The following is the press release I received this morning from the Chung family lawyer, Christopher C.S. Manning:
Today the District of Columbia Court of Appeals ruled resoundingly in favor of the Chung family and denied Mr. Roy Pearson's appeal of the case completely. The DC Court of Appeals held that the trial court correctly ruled that Mr. Pearson's claims had no merit whatsoever.

Mr. Jin Chung said "We are very very happy with the result and thank everyone for supporting us. The past three years have been very difficult but we hope this nightmare is finally over." The Chungs also hope the vague and often unfair DC Consumer Protection Act (which was the primary statutory basis for the lawsuit) will be changed so that others do not suffer like they did.

Mr. Pearson may request that the appeal be heard again by the entire panel of DC Court of Appeals judges and also may petition for an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. It is the Chung's hope that Mr. Pearson will not attempt to appeal any further and will end his frivolous and baseless attacks on the Chung family.

The three and a half years this case has been pending and appealed have been very difficult for the Chungs. They lost two of their dry cleaning stores and their realization of the American Dream.

The Chungs simply want to quietly return to their one remaining small dry cleaning store at 7th and M streets and to rebuild their lives.

Manning Sossamon law firm handled the appeal for the Chungs on a pro bono basis.
No pants, in the history of pants, has ever been worth $54 million. And yet Pearson persists, refusing to leave this poor family alone. In today's ruling, three appellate judges agreed that Pearson, a former D.C. judge, failed to show the store's advertising amounted to fraud and said his argument defied logic.

Hopefully, the ruling means this ridiculous saga will finally be over for the Chungs. Unfortunately, Pearson can still ask the entire nine-judge appellate court to review the case or appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. I'm not trying to give him any ideas—chances are, the crazy idiot has already thought of it.

If he knows what's good for him (and obviously, he doesn't) Pearson will give it up, because he's wasted a lot of people's time, money and resources over this matter. But at this point, I wouldn't put it past him to go all the way with this. More here: Former Judge Loses $67 Million Pants Case. And here: Appeals court rejects DC missing pants case.

hyphen issue 16 release happy hour

This is a bit short notice, but if you're in the Bay Area, and looking for something to do tonight after work, come help Hyphen celebrate their latest issue, as well as some general holiday socializing. It's tonight, December 18, 6:00-10:00pm at Sugar Cafe in San Francisco. Read on for details:
Consume, Carouse, and Celebrate!

Thursday, December 18th, 6 - 10pm
$5 - 10 sliding scale donation
Sugar Cafe (679 Sutter St., San Francisco, CA)

Ring in the holiday season with Hyphen at our #16 issue release happy hour as our newest issue comes out, hot off the press and straight to your hands. We mean it! The early birds get their worms, as the first 50 guests will receive a free copy of our Issue #16, the Consumption issue. Latecomers, worry not - subscribe that night and get four issues for $15 or eight issues for $25.

So come and hang out with your favorite Hyphenites at our happy hour event. There will be holiday drink specials at the bar, and copies of the #16 Consumption issue handy as you read about respecting rice, chinky fonts, conscious hip hop duo Blue Scholars and much much more.

Tacky holiday sweaters encouraged.

Eggnog & holiday drink specials!

*First 50 guests get a free copy of the new issue*

Subscribe that night and get four issues for $15 or eight for $25!
Should be a fun time, so come hang out with the Hyphenites. What's better than a Thursday night out with drinks and friends? For more info, head to the Hyphen website here. And remember, for that special someone on your list, a Hyphen subscription makes the perfect holiday gift.

the filipino obama

This is kind of amusing. A series a photos has been circulating around the web calling this lookalike the "Filipino Obama." I don't think he's going to fool anyone, but you've got to admit, at the right angle, the resemblance is pretty close. Who is this guy? I have no idea. But the photos are kind of funny. A quick Google search reveals some more photos here. (Thanks, Ling.)

UPDATE: Turns out, this guy is not the Filipino Obama. He's actually a 34-year-old photographer from Indonesia named Ilham Anas, and his resemblance to our new president has apparently rocketed the guy to fame: Indonesian Obama Look-Alike.

mr. cao goes to washington

Here's an interesting opinion piece in the Washington Post by Ylan Q. Mui on the election of Rep. Anh "Joseph" Cao, the first Vietnamese American in Congress, and what it means for the Vietnamese community in the changing city of New Orleans: After the Storm, Mr. Cao Goes to Washington.

Meanwhile, according to his hometown paper, the Times-Picayune, Cao has apparently expressed interest in joining the Congressional Black Caucus, presumably because he represents a minority district: Rep. Cao's interest in CBC could spark clash.

I sort of understand why Cao want to join. His district is 64 percent African American and 3 percent Asian. The CBC, however, has never admitted a non-black member. Why do I get the feeling this is not such a great idea? Cao is aware that there's an Asian Pacific Islander Caucus... isn't he?

student wins collegiate inventors competition

The key is Jell-O. So says Timothy Lu, a visiting scholar in biomedical engineering at Boston University, who won the 2008 Collegiate Inventors Competition: Grad student's discovery earns national prize.

Lu discovered a way to break through nearly impenetrable protective biofilm, which surrounds and protects the bacteria that cause many ailments, preventing patient recovery. This is one of the crucial obstacles in treating patients with conditions like cystic fibrosis, a hereditary disease for which there is no cure.

According to Lu, it's like fruit Jell-O. The fruit is the bacteria themselves and the Jell-O is the protective layer. Lu's work was about weakening the bacteria's defense systems by chewing up the protective biofilm. That is awesome. Bust through that biofilm, baby.

The biofilm project was one of two projects involving bacteria that convinced the National Inventors Hall of Fame Foundation to award Lu the $25,000 grand prize. Pretty damn brilliant.

muoneke attacked after game in china

What in the world...? In China, basketball player Liu Wei of the Shanghai Sharks has been fined and suspended by the Chinese Basketball Association over his part in a post-game attack on former NBA forward Gabe Muoneke, who plays for the Yunnan Running Bulls: EX-NBA PLAYER MUONEKE ATTACKED AFTER GAME IN CHINA.

Muoneke, who has played for Houston, Charlotte and Utah, was uninjured in the November 28 incident following a game between the Running Bulls and the Sharks. Liu and teammate Cai Liang must each pay a 50,000-yuan fine and serve a 10-game suspension. Their team was fined 100,000 yuan.

After clashing on the court as they wrestled for the ball, Liu, Cai and other members of the Sharks apparently confronted Muoneke as he was leaving the stadium with his wife, three children and mother-in-law.

Muoneke was hit by a water bottle and chased into a corner, where he was surrounded by Shark players. The attack was captured on security cameras, and the footage was reviewed as part of an investigation.

You've got to be kidding me. What kind of idiots do something like this? To a guy who's with his family! How stupid do the Sharks look now? Gabe Muoneke actually has a blog entry about what happened during the altercation here: China madness. I'm just shaking my head. (Thanks, Eric.)


daniel henney in x-men origins: wolverine trailer

Oh snap! Ladies, gather 'round. It's superhot model-turned-superstar South Korean actor Daniel Henney showing up in the new trailer for X-Men Origins: Wolverine. The movie is a prequel of sorts, telling the origin story of the adamantium-clawed mutant superhero Logan, aka Wolverine of the X-Men.

As previously reported, Henney plays Agent Zero, "a member of the Weapon X program and an expert tracker with lethal marksman skills" ...and one really good-looking man. It's indisputable. X-Men Origins: Wolverine opens in theaters on May 1, 2009. Watch the trailer here.

far east movement's animal online listening party

Far East Movement fans, check it out... This Thursday, December 18 at 8:00pm PST will be hosting an online listening party for their new album Animal. They'll be telling the story behind every track, as well as doing some t-shirt and album giveaways. Tune in Thursday night here. And of course, you can order the album online here.

Meanwhile, the FM boys have got a song on the radio. Their first single off Animal, "Girls on the Dance Floor" has been playing on Power 106 in Los Angeles. You can for the song on Yesi Ortiz's "Hit or Miss" segment on her website here. If you're in L.A., you can text into Power 106 for "Girls on the Dance Floor" at 69106.

the tale of a north korean prison camp escapee

The Washington Post recently ran this amazing, crazy story about Shin Dong-hyuk, who was born in a North Korean prison camp, escaped to the South, and lived to tell about his experiences: Escapee Tells of Horrors in North Korean Prison Camp. It's a fascinating, awful story.

According to to the government's count, there are currently 14,431 North Korean defectors living in South Korea. Shin is the only one known to have escaped to the South from a prison camp in the North. As you can imagine, the conditions he describes in the camps are nothing short of horrifying.

Now, Shin is struggling to adjust to a "normal" existence in South Korea, while telling anyone and everyone who will listen about his experiences in North Korea. Despite the North Korean government's effort to cover the truth, we know things are bad there... this is one guy who has lived through the worst of it.

UPDATE: Here's a Google TechTalk video recorded earlier this year with Adrian Hong, Executive Director of Liberty in North Korea (LiNK), and Dong Hyuk Shin, talking about his experiences growing up at Political Prison Camp No. 14: BORN AND RAISED IN A CONCENTRATION CAMP.

michelle wins the biggest loser

Michelle wins! Don't know how many Biggest Loser fans are out there, but last night on the sixth season finale, Michelle Aguilar won the $250,000 prize after losing 110 pounds—that's an astonishing 45.45% of her original body weight. She also managed to beat out two fellow competitors who had to be two of the most conniving and unappealing contestants in the show's history.

The LA Times blogs about the finale here: 'Biggest Loser': Victory for Michelle, death threats for Vicky. For lots of show coverage, including video from the finale, go here. Congratulations, Michelle. I was rooting for you and your mom all season.

check out mochi magazine

I recently learned about Mochi Magazine, a relatively new online Asian American publication that launched earlier this year. For and by Asian and Asian American teenage girls, the magazine's mission is to provide a community for readers to access sisterly advice and to explore their cultural identities.

Mochi's content focuses on fashion, health, relationships, college, careers and more, written by high school-aged peers as well as college women, young professionals and other role models providing forward inspiration.

With just two issues so far, there isn't a huge amount of content yet, but I was poking around the archives and liked what I saw. Obviously, I am not in Mochi's target demographic, but it's definitely something I can get behind. Check it out Mochi Magazine here. And join the Facebook group here.

the few asian americans in men's college basketball

The San Francisco Chronicle has a really interesting story Asian American players—and the significant lack thereof—in college basketball. According to the most NCAA Student-Athlete Race and Ethnicity Report, of 4,814 Division I men's basketball players in 2006-07, there were only 19 Asian Pacific Americans. That's 0.4 percent: Asian Americans remain rare in men's college basketball.

The article profiles some of the few who are representing, including Jeremy Lin, starting point guard and leading scorer for Harvard. Hailing from the Bay Area, he helped Palo Alto High win the Division II state title in 2006, and was named first-team All-State and Northern California Division II Player of the Year.

However, despite several of such honors and some impressive stats, he didn't get a single Division I offer, and he thinks being Asian was definitely a factor in not being more heavily recruited out of high school. On top of that, the guy has to take a lot of crap as one of the few Asians in the game:
"I hear everything: 'Go back to China. Orchestra is on the other side of campus. Open up your eyes,' " Lin said. "They're yelling at me before, during and after. I'm an easy target because I'm Asian. Sometimes it makes me uncomfortable, but it's part of the game."
The article also mentions Kelvin Kim, starting point guard for UC San Diego, who faces similar encounters, as well as coaches like Seattle Pacific's Jeff Hironaka, the only current Asian American Division II head coach, and USF's Rex Walters, the only Asian American Division I men's basketball head coach. They've all defied expectations, but still constantly face uphill battles as the few Asian American faces in the sport.

Meanwhile, it should be noted that from 1999 to 2007, the number of Asian American Division I women's basketball players has gone up in six years. In 2005-06, there were 76, the most ever recorded. At least we can measure progress somewhere.


fra live streaming event with tatum jones

My friends at Future Rockstars of America inform me that they'll be hosting a live stream session with R&B group Tatum Jones (Hans Cho, Justin Fong and Michael Lee) in conjunction with uStream this Wednesday, December 17 at 7:00pm PST. For more information, go to the FRA site here. To hear from Tatum Jones, visit their website here and their MySpace page here.

woman urinates in abercrombie and fitch changing room

This has absolutely nothing to do with Asian America... but considering how much I dislike Abercrombie and Fitch for a variety of offenses over the years, I across this headline and really just had to laugh: Upset Abercrombie & Fitch shopper urinates in a bucket in changing room.

My favorite part is how the woman wasn't satisfied with simply urinating into the bucket—she was compelled to dump $300 worth of new clothes in it. I guess that's how those clothes end up on the clearance rack.

india's first professional baseball players

Here's another story on Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel, who recently joined the Pittsburgh Pirates to become the first baseball players from India to sign a professional baseball contract: Indian pitchers are first for America's national pastime. The two have a lot to learn about baseball, but they come with some seriously raw, awesome potential.

Both men, plucked from an Indian reality show, have demonstrated pitching arms that can throw past the 90 mile per hour mark. Awesome, considering that before this whole thing started for them, they had never even picked up a baseball. Their journey continues when they take the mound for the Pirates during spring training.

the unique vision of i.m. pei

The New York Times has a cool article on the work of influential architect I.M. Pei, who is responsible for projects like the East Building of the National Gallery of Art in Washington and the Louvre pyramid in Paris. His most recent work is the the Museum of Islamic Art at Doha, Qatar: For I. M. Pei, History Is Still Happening.

research journal's chinese cover features strip club ad

This one has been making the rounds, and it's pretty damn funny... The Max Planck Institute, one of Germany's top research institutions, wanted some Chinese classical texts for the cover design of their latest journal, a special report on China. Cool, right?

I guess no one on the design staff actually reads Chinese, nor did any research, because the cover they ended up getting is actually text from a handbill for a Macau strip club. Boom. Right there on the front page: Chinese 'classical poem' was brothel ad.

The cover of the scientific journal proudly boasts "hot housewives" and their "enchanting and coquettish performance," promising "burlesque acts by pretty-as-jade housewives with hot bodies for the daytime visitor." Oh my. I had no idea that the MaxPlanckForschung journal was that kind of publication.

The Institute was quick to acknowledge its error explaining that it had consulted a "German sinologist" prior to publication of the text. Alas, it seems that this German sinologist doesn't know what the hell he's talking about. Next time, they'd be better off checking with someone at the local Chinese restaurant.


geunjin's place release party this friday

Sam Geunjin Kang is releasing a new album, Geunjin's Place. I've been a fan of this musician ever since I saw him earlier this year at Kollaboration, then later in the summer at Kollaboration Acoustic. He's a serious talent with a great sound and presence, but more importantly, he's got something to say. I really dig his song "Dreams."

To celebrate the new album, they're throwing a release party this Friday, December 19 at Vision Art Hall in Los Angeles. In addition to Sam, guest performances will include Andrew Figueroa Chiang and Tier2, and hosted by Million Dollar Babies. For more information, go to Sam's website here or his MySpace page here.

daniel dae kim to star in the king and I in london

Just read a quick news bite from Variety reporting that Lost's Daniel Dae Kim will star opposite Maria Friedman next summer in a short London run of the 1951 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical The King and I: Kim to star as "King." Very interesting. Who knew DDK could sing?

If you're not familiar with the show, it's based on the true story of Anna Leonowens, who became school teacher to the children of King Mongkut of Siam in the early 1860s. The musical was a huge hit on Broadway, spawning numerous revivals and a popular 1956 film. This new production will run twenty performances, June 12-28.

asian american poets awarded nea literature fellowships

Cool news on the literary front... I recently heard from Laotian American writer Bryan Thao Worra, who informs me that he, along with Jason Koo, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, and C. Dale Young were among the Asian American poets who received this year's Literature Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts. This is wonderful news for these artists.

Literature Fellowships are "the Arts Endowment's most direct investment in American creativity, encouraging the production of new work and allowing writers the time and means to write." The fellowships alternate annually between poetry and prose. For 2009, 42 poets will receive fellowships of $25,000 each. This year there were over 1,000 applications from across the US. Congratulations to the new fellows.

americans on the other end of the line... for a price

Let me get this straight. PC manufacturer Dell is charging customers a monthly fee to have access to its United States-based customer service representatives. They're charging customers with a Dell account $12.95 per month to have access to an American agent or $99 per year for customers who buy a new PC. But here's the kicker... If you don't want to pay up the fee, you can still talk to call center agents in India or the Philippines: Dear Dell: Customer service should be free.

Dell is, in effect, saying that the American support service is better than one with a representative from India or the Philippines on the other end of the line. Shouldn't support be support, no matter where it's coming from? I guess there really is a premium price ($12.95/month) on an American accent. It'll be interesting to se how successful this premium actually is. More here: The Bangalore Backlash: Call Centers Return to U.S.

following up with anna mae he

The Associated Press follows up on the story of Anna Mae He, the Chinese child who was at the center of a high-profile seven-year custody battle that ended last year with a judge ordering for her to be removed from her adopted family, the Bakers (the only family she ever really knew) and returned back to the Hes, her birth parents: Child in US custody fight adjusts to new country.

The family has since moved back to China, where her parents have sadly filed for divorce, and Anna Mae has been struggling to adjust to life in a new country. It doesn't sound like the transition has been very easy on her, which is no surprise. As I've said from the very beginning of this whole ordeal, no matter what the outcome, the real heartbreak is how it would affect Anna He. And now, we get a glimpse. It'll be interesting to see how she's doing in five years...

first time for everything

This postcard was recently spotted over at PostSecret, where people anonymously mail in their secrets on postcards. Don't know what to make of this one, except to suggest that the secret submitter has got some issues. Makes you really curious doesn't it? Face it, dude. He/she got down with Brown. Get over it. I just noticed that they also posted about this one over at Sepia Mutiny: Touched For The Very First Time.

dignity in the wake of tragedy

This is a really nicely-written opinion piece by Adrian Hong in the Los Angeles Times on Dong Yun Yoon, the man who lost his entire family when a Marine jet crashed into his house last week—namely, his incredible dignity and forgiveness in the face of such a horrible tragedy: Lesson of San Diego's jet crash.

It takes a someone of extraordinary character to forgive the man responsible for killing his family, even if it was an accident. Like Adrian says, no one would've have blamed Yoon for expressing anger or rage. But he stood there in front of the press and asked for the public to support the pilot. I wouldn't ever want to be in the place he's in, but if I was, I'd pray for that kind of strength.

That said, there are those who need to be angry on Mr. Yoon's behalf. Someone needs to held accountable for what happened. We're talking about a family shattered... where is the outrage? I can't believe how news of the crash has been completely buried. I got a link from fellow blogger The Minority Militant with his letter to you, me and the powers that be, demanding action and answers:

DATE: 12/10/2008


SUBJECT: F/A - 18D Hornet Aircraft Crash In San Diego

Okay, there's a whole bunch of things going on in the news right now and I'm sure they all have some relevance to the people who visit here, but I gotta tell you, I am outraged about this FA-18D Hornet that crashed into a residential community and nearly killed an entire family. I went on all three major cable news networks today and apparently this issue has pretty much been washed down the drain as we speak. I wanna tell you something, this is a public matter that needs to be addressed at the highest levels of government. This is a military aircraft we're talking about that was involved in this tragedy, not a commercial plane. And the fact that it malfunctioned above a heavily populated city like San Diego -- it just scares the living shit out of me.

Where's the outrage folks? Why the fuck is Caylie Anthony on the news when we just had a tragic event that should be embarrassing enough for at least the civilian leadership in the defense department to address to the American people that they are all over this like white on rice. That's what needs to happen. Where is our fearless leader George Bush at? Where's Admiral Mullen? Where's Robert Gates? How come we're not having a press conference to address the fact that one of the most sophisticated fighter aircraft we have in the military arsenal isn't going to malfunction again -- and in the middle of cities and towns we live in??

I'm am so outraged I can't help but watch replays of that man weeping because he's just lost everyone that was near-dear to what is humane about life. We're talking about women and children that have lost their lives due to either technical issues, negligence, or just operator error. There is a part of me that is torn by this because I haven't seen anyone with some influence give a goddamn care in the world about what just happened two days ago. If this was a White family that had been destroyed, I guarantee you this would've been cycled in the news for the next two weeks.

Someone needs to be held accountable and there needs to be an outburst of public dismay to what we've just witnessed before us. Who is this pilot? How long has he been on the job? Was the routine maintenance done on this aircraft? How much fuel did it have when it left base? Where did it leave from? Where was the plane headed? How did both of the engines give out? What are the ejection procedures? I wanna know all this information because it is relevant to how this came about and so we can take the necessary precautions so this doesn't happen again in the future. The fact that this plane didn't drop in a school or a hospital is relief enough that we should be addressing this at the highest offices of public service.





Damn right. Don't let this issue just become a blip in last week's news cycle. There must be accountability. Mr. Yoon deserves answers. We all deserve answers. (Thanks, TMM.)

cal basketball's max zhang

Cal basketball fans are probably already aware of Max Zhang. I just heard about him. Hailing from Yantai City, the 7'3" center is apparently the tallest player in the UC Berkeley's history. He hasn't had much game time, but he's only a freshman, and still developing physically.

According to his bio. Zhang was selected to China's high school all-star team after averaging 23.5 ppg, 13 rpg and 6 bpg in the CIAA Chinese League. He previously played for the California Supreme AAU team, and also briefly played with the LA Impact AAU team. He signed with the Bears in August 2007. (Thanks, Chris.)


the good, the bad and the ugly: gran torino

Clint Eastwood's Gran Torino opened in select theaters on Friday. Having now seen the film, I have a few thoughts. There are a lot of little things to admire about the movie (Hmong Americans in the spotlight!), and a handful of big things that really bothered me (white man saves the neighborhood!). Still, overall, I have to admit that I walked out of the theater feeling like I'd seen a pretty significant film.

The movie tells the story of Walt Kowalski, a widowed Korean War vet who just wants to be left alone. When he catches Thao, the Hmong teenager next door, trying to steal his prized possession—a 1973 mint condition Gran Torino—he reluctantly gets drawn into the life of Thao, his sister Sue, and their family, eventually taking steps to protect them from the growing threat of neighborhood gangs. At 78 years old, Clint Eastwood still convincingly looks like he could kick a teenage gangbanger's ass, and he does.

Walt Kowalski is what Dirty Harry would look like if he'd grown old and gone suburban—he's aging, cranky, and hates everybody. The world around him has changed, and his old-world, racist self refused to change with it. This is no exaggeration—during the course of the movie, Walt unabashedly utters every single imaginable slur for Asians. Because he's a bitter old racist white guy, and that's what bitter old racist white guys do.

But as his friendship with Thao and Sue grows, Walt eventually comes to an understanding. Yes, the classic tale of White Man Learns from People of Color. We've seen it before. In many ways, the movie plays a bit like Hmong America 101. For a lot of average moviegoers, I imagine this will probably be their first exposure to the Hmong people, their culture and their story in America. This is both a good and bad thing.

When has Hollywood ever even attempted to tell this specific ethnic group's story? I recall an episode of Grey's Anatomy, but outside of that, and news coverage of trouble with Hmong hunters, they've been virtually invisible. To the story's credit, Thao and Sue seem like real, multidimensional characters, and their family and community are drawn with a degree of compassion. The film touches upon issues of their history and struggles as a recent immigrant group. It's a little clunky, but Eastwood and Co. get points for at least trying.

Then again, there's the gang. The mean Hmong gang who terrorize and prey on their own people. Thao's cousin Spider runs with a bunch of thugs playing gangsta who are hell bent on recruiting on Thao into the gang. Their posturing starts from stupid and increasingly escalates into something awful. Sure, every community has its unique share of screw-ups. It's just disheartening to see the Hmong depicted, in a way, as people who need saving from themselves. And that's where Clint Eastwood steps in.

In the end, this isn't a movie about the Hmong American community. It's about Kowalski's journey of understanding and redemption. And I've got to admit, it's pretty affecting. Big props to first-time actors Bee Vang and Ahney Her, who play Thao and Sue. They do a great job, and I hope we see more of them. The same goes for the rest of the Hmong cast—also mostly newcomers. But this isn't the great, definitive Hmong American movie you've been waiting for. That movie has yet to be made. And something tells me Hollywood doesn't have plans to make it anytime soon. Gran Torino will have to do for now.

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