best. halloween. costume. ever.

Hands down, the award for Halloween costume of the year goes to MetroDad's daughter who is roaming the neighborhood as Underage Chinese Gymnast. I've been laughing my ass off looking at the photo all week. Absolutely freaking brilliant. Peanut, you get the gold medal.

hate crime victim forced to say "I love america"

We get news of a vicious hate crime in Colorado... Police in Boulder are investigating a case of bias-motivated assault and felony menacing involving a suspect who held a knife to the throat of an Asian American man and forced him to say "I love America" early Friday morning: Asian-American Assaulted, Forced to Say 'I Love America'

The 22-year-old victim was apparently walking down the street with friends, singing a song from the movie Team America(?), when they were confronted by four men. One of the suspects came up to the victim and began challenging him, asking "Do you think you are an American?" and calling the victim a "Chinaman."

According to the police press release, the main suspect punched the victim in the face. Then while holding a knife to the victim's throat, he punched him again and forced him to say "I love America." Then the suspect and his friends ran away. More here: Asian-American Assaulted, Forced to Say 'I Love America'

What the hell? This Asian guy can't just walk the street like everyone else without getting harassed, assaulted and humiliated in a completely unprovoked hate attack. Make no mistake—this guy was singled out and attacked for just being himself. An Asian man. That's racist!

The suspect was described as a 5-10 white male, about 19 or 20, with short blond hair. He was wearing a white tank-top T-shirt and black pants. Another assailant was described as a white male with a "very long goatee," wearing a long-sleeved gray sweatshirt. Anonymous tipsters can call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or 1-800-444-3776.

ninjas for the asian american vote

This is freaking awesome. This week at the University of Georgia, ninjas snuck their way into a campus area with a swift and stealthy mission to pass out voting flyers to students—ninja style: Ninjas urge to vote, cover key issues.

The "covert" operation was carried out by members of various Asian-oriented organizations on campus to promote an upcoming seminar, "Don't Vote - You Don't Matter." Because Asian American voters are often perceived as unseen and unheard... just like ninjas! Get it?

Clever. And it's a funny way to illustrate an important point. My fellow Asian Americans, I love ninjas. Ninjas are awesome. But let us not be ninjas on Election Day. Let us be seen and heard. And counted. That's power.

seriously, could obama be the first asian american president?

Earlier this year, SFGate "Asian Pop" columnist Jeff Yang made the compelling case that, in many ways, Barack Obama could be the the first Asian American president. Yeah, I know, not really. Not literally. But in spirit, culture and experience... yeah, kind of. I can believe it.

This week, Jeff appeared on NPR's Tell Me More as part of the show's ongoing "What If" series to talk about his column and this interesting possibility: Asian Writer Ponders First Asian President Too. It's a really good, lengthy interview that actually covers a lot of ground, so check it out. Props, Jeff.

yes we can, bruce

In my book, this is perhaps the greatest endorsement a presidential candidate could ask for. If only. Check it out: Lee votes Obama. I'm ordering my t-shirt right now. (Thanks, Simon.)

watch ryuhei kitamura's midnight meat train online

You might have missed Ryuhei Kitamura's Midnight Meat Train when it was in theaters a few months back. It's horror flick from a story by Clive Barker, starring Vinnie Jones, about a dude who kills people on the train. At midnight.

Lionsgate kind of gave it a crappy limited release, so barely anyone really saw it. Also, it has a really awful title. To be honest, I don't know if it's any good. But guess what? You can watch it online now over FEARnet. For free! Something scary for your Halloween.

insurance fraud ring targeted asian drivers

In New York, authorities have busted a massive insurance fraud ring that staged dozens of car crashes targeting Asian American drivers in Queens: NYPD slams brakes on insurance fraud ring targeting Asians.

The 19 month-long, multi-agency investigation, dubbed "Operation Direct Hit," charged 61 people and two businesses with orchestrating fender benders in Flushing to swindle insurance companies out of more than $1.6 million dollars since 2005.

The scammers apparently targeted Asian drivers because they thought they were "bad drivers who would be blamed for the accidents." I'm not kidding. That's racist! And because of that, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown charged at least one defendant with a hate crime. Damn right.

According to authorities, ringleaders paid their henchmen to wait for unsuspecting drivers to back out of parking lots or driveways along Northern Blvd. from Parsons Blvd. to 105th St. and then crash into them with a car full of passengers.

The bogus "victims" would then rack up huge fake medical bills at the Bronx Park Medical clinic in Manhattan, where the ringleaders operated the scheme. The plot unraveled when claims investigators at Nationwide found three suspiciously similar "accidents" in Queens and reported them to the NYPD.

I swear, there was a Law and Order episode with this exact same plot. The defendants—seven of whom are still on the lam—face up to 25 years, if convicted of enterprise corruption, insurance fraud, grand larceny and fraud charges.

danny boyle's slumdog millionaire

A movie I've really been looking forward to seeing this fall is Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire. I'm a huge fan of Boyle's work, and the premise is really intriguing. The film tells the story of an illiterate street kid from Mumbai who makes it onto India's version of Who Whats to Be a Millionaire? in order to reconnect with his lost love, who he knows watches the show religiously.

The movie's been getting some great, rave reviews and has been a big hit at a number of film festivals, including Telluride and Toronto (it was awarded the People's Choice Award at TIFF). Watch the trailer here. You can also view a clip from the film here. It looks fantastic, and I can't wait to see it. The movie opens in theaters on November 12.

korean students, american education

This is an interesting story about the trend of increasingly large numbers of South Korean youths being sent to English-speaking countries to study: More Korean families make sacrifice to send kids to study in the U.S.

Academic competition in Korea is crazy fierce, and many parents feel their kids can get an edge in places like the United States, where they can become fluent in English—an extremely valuable factor for success in today's globalized economy.

I have witnessed this phenomenon myself. I come from an extremely large extended family, with many relatives coming from Korea over the years to study here and learn English. I have many memories of cousins struggling over their new American homework. I'm talking about you, Jejong and Hyunhee!

student jumps to her death to escape rapist

This is a really awful, horrifying story out of Australia... A Chinese student died and her boyfriend suffered serious injuries when they fell naked from their third-floor balcony in a desperate attempt to escape a knife-wielding rapist: Young Liao Wei killed for $200 after hour-long rape ordeal.

After following a female visitor into the building, the man forced four terrified apartment occupants to strip at knifepoint in their living room before holding them for an hour, repeatedly sexually assaulting two of them as the others were forced to watch. He then stole their money.

Then 18-year-old Liao "Elva" Wei and her boyfriend Tae Wook "Chris" Han made their decision to flee their captor by jumping off the balcony, falling 25m on to concrete. Liao died. Han landed feet first, shattering his legs, pelvis and suffering spinal injuries. What a nightmare. Sickening, humiliating and tragic.
All that, and the attacker apparently made off with less than $200. Police have described the attacker as 175cm tall, of solid build, with dark complexion. He was casually dressed, had short dark hair and aged in his 30s. This man needs to be caught and punished.

UPDATE: A 26-year-old man, Brendan Denison, has been remanded in custody and charged with a total of 21 offenses, including murder, in connection with the horrific death of Liao Wei: Brendan Dennison in custody over Sydney apartment balcony death.

angry asians for obama shirt

This is really last minute, but every little bit helps... I've partnered up with Blacklava again to produce a new t-shirt in support of Barack Obama. I threw the design together pretty quickly, but it's available for order now. Check it out: angry asians for obama.

Are you Angry? Are you Asian? Are you for Obama? Then this shirt is for you! Wear it with pride. There's also women's size shirt (note: the photo is temporary and doesn't exactly reflect what the shirt looks like, but you get the general idea). Rush order yours now to wear on Election Day.

rock the vote! event at uc berkeley, november 3

If you're at UC Berkeley next week, be sure to check out the Asian Political Association's Rock the Vote!, a concert to encourage political activity amongst young Asian Americans. The event will feature performances from Julie Chow, Valerie Mih, Song of the Siren, Bento and Mud, as well as words from student leader, professors and political leaders. It's a rally, my friends.

It's all going down on the eve before Election Day, on Monday, November 3, 7:00pm at Heller Lounge, UC Berkeley's Multicultural Center. They'll be giving out free stuff. Like t-shirts. And everybody loves a free t-shirt. Come on out and show everybody that young Asian Americans can and will indeed rock the vote this Tuesday. For more information about the event, go here.

the wisdom of guy kawasaki

The New York Times recently ran an interview, conducted over email, with prolific entrepreneurial guru Guy Kawasaki, the bestselling author of seven books, a founding partner at Garage Technology Ventures, the co-founder of Alltop.com, and a popular public speaker and blogger: The Care and Feeding of Entrepreneurs.

Kawasaki's latest book, Reality Check: The Irreverent Guide to Outsmarting, Outmanaging, and Outmarketing Your Competition, is a compilation of his advice, interviews and musings on all aspects of entrepreneurship.

He's a really interesting guy with some pretty sound advice. I follow his blog from time to time. I'll always remember this post from a few years back outlining twelve tips on being an Effective Emailer. I receive a lot of email, and there are a lot of people out there who could benefit from reading that post. I'm just saying.


power of the swing vote

Maybe you've heard, but there's an election going on. Yeah, it's on the news and stuff. I'm asking you all, as friends and readers of this website, to vote. Vote your ass off. Need more convincing? My friends at Projekt NewSpeak have created this entertaining and informative short documentary on the importance of the Asian American vote: Power of the Swing Vote.

The piece features folks like Bobby Lee, Tia Carrere, Russell Peters, Jabbawockeez, Kaba Modern, Carrie Ann Inaba, Cheryl Burke, B.D. Wong, Rex Lee, Michelle Krusiec, Congressman Mike Honda, and more.

We've all heard that Asian Americans are among the least likely to vote. That sucks. That sucks. But as this video illustrates, Asian Americans can make a significant impact on a political race... just look at the now-infamous "macaca" incident. We helped take that racist fool George Allen down! And baby, we can do it again.

greg pak endorses barack obama

I recently heard from filmmaker/comic books scribe Greg Pak, a guy who I respect immensely as an artist, a thinker, and a generally cool guy. He's posted a few words on his site explaining why he's supporting Barack Obama for President: Why I'm voting for Barack Obama. Here's an excerpt:
In February 2008, Koream Magazine asked me for a statement about whom I supported for President. Here's what I submitted:

"Call me old fashioned, but I want a president who believes in the rule of law and Constitution of the United States. That means defending the Bill of Rights, restoring habeas corpus, rejecting the use of presidential signing statements as an unconstitutional line item veto, and repudiating torture, warrantless wiretaps, and wars of aggression. I give bonus points for rejecting anti-immigrant rhetoric and for confronting the challenges of poverty, global warming, the health care crisis, and the coming recession."

For all of the above reasons, I'm voting for Senator Barack Obama on November 4. But since I wrote those words, Senator Obama has further sealed the deal by...

... writing and delivering the most intelligent, honest, and moving speech about race in America that I've ever heard...

... running his campaign with a steady hand and inclusive vision that demonstrates a commitment to reaching out to Americans in every part of the country...

... winning all three Presidential debates by demonstrating a total command of the issues of the day and an abiding empathy for the struggles of the American people...

... presenting solutions for the financial crisis that include tax cuts for 95 percent of Americans and a common-sense health care plan that reaches out to those who desperately need help while leaving alone those whose current arrangements are already working...

... and dealing with outrageous and childish misrepresentations of his religion and political philosophy with good humor and measured firmness.

In short, Barack Obama has the temperament, strength, and vision to lead this diverse nation back towards prosperity while reaffirming our core values as embodied in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
If you share our support for Obama and the future of this nation, please be sure to vote this Tuesday, November 4. And encourage all your friends and family to do the same. I've actually voted already. I sent my ballot in the mail yesterday. It felt good.

the great fake shoe bust

Asians Behaving Badly... knockoff Nike edition! This week in New Jersey, police busted four guys who were apparently trying to move 15,000 pairs of counterfeit Nike sneakers into a storage facility: 15,000 pairs of Nikes were counterfeit, cops say. That's a lot of fake shoes.

A police patrol came across Xian Liu, Hai Zhou, Xiao Chen and Quian Geng unloading a cargo container into a storage unit. Upon investigation, they discover lots and lots and lots of fake Nike brand sneakers in large boxes shipped from China. Police also seized $13,000 from Chen.

The estimated street value of the sneakers is about $1.4 million. My question is, what are they going to do with all the shoes after they no longer need them for evidence? Don't be surprised if a few pairs go missing from evidence room. After all, Christmas is just around the corner.

ten questions for wayne wang

Did you see Wayne Wang's The Princess of Nebraska? It online, streaming free at YouTube's Screening Room. That's right. Free! A full feature length from a legitimate veteran director. Free: A YouTube Opening for Wayne Wang's New Film. You can also probably catch its companion film A Thousand Years of Good Prayers playing in limited release... um, somewhere in America.

TIME's Ling Liu has 10 Questions for Wayne Wang. The questions were all submitted by online users. It's short, but there are some really interesting tidbits of insight in there about his background, his career and his intentions as a filmmaker. You can also download and listen to Ling's more in-depth podcast interview with Wayne here.


do you know this woman?

Who is this woman? Does anyone out there know her or recognize her? Who is this random Asian woman supporter who popped up in tonight's prime time Barack Obama infomercial? Oh, it may have been just a split second, but I saw her. It's what I do. Watch it here, at the 25:44 mark: American Stories, American Solutions.

Alas. It would have been nice if the Obama campaign, in its portrait of regular, everyday America, had chosen to include more Asian Americans somewhere in there. The commercial was just under half an hour long, and while inspirational, was almost devoid of Asian faces... except this woman. Who are you? Step forward and be recognized!

call for entries: northwest asian american film festival

Attention, Asian American filmmakers. The Northwest Asian American Film Festival in Seattle is now accepting entries for next year's festival, happening February 26-March 1, 2009. Mark your calendars. Short, experimental, documentary, narrative—they want it all. Details below:
Call for Entries

Northwest Asian American Film Festival is now accepting entries for films on subjects related to the Asian Pacific American experience. Along with screenings of curated and selected works from the Pacific Northwest and North America, the four-day film festival will offer a variety of social events and programs relating to Asian American media.

Submission Format: DVD or URL link (to YouTube, Google Video etc.)
Genres: Short; Experimental; Documentary; Narrative
Screening Format: 35mm; 16mm; mini DV; DVD
Deadline: December 5, 2008


1) Complete and send the entry form to NWAAFF 2009 (form is available on our web site www.nwaaff.org)
  • By email to info@nwaaff.org
  • By mail to 1463 E. Republican St. #106, Seattle, WA 98112

    2) Send your film to NWAAFF 2009:
  • DVD sent by mail to NWAAFF, 1463 E. Republican St. #106, Seattle, WA 98112. Please indicate the film's title and contact information on the tape/disc.
  • As a URL where your film can be viewed online (e.g. YouTube, Google Video, etc.).

    Please do not include additional promotional materials.

    DEADLINES: Mailed entries must be postmarked and electronic entries must be sent no later than December 5, 2008. Receipt of entries will be confirmed via email. Final selections will be announced in late December/early January.

    ENTRY FEE: There is no entry fee for this year's festival.

    Questions? Email info@nwaaff.org
  • For more information about the festival and how to submit your film, visit the NWAAFF website here. You can also check out the festival's MySpace page here and Facebook page here. The submission deadline is December 5.

    desktop vr displays for dummies

    The New York Times has an interesting story on Johnny Chung Lee, who became the web's most famous innovator when his instructional Wiimote/Desktop VR Display YouTube video became an online sensation: If No One Sees It, Is It an Invention?

    Posted last September, the five-minute video showed how, in a few easy steps, the Nintendo Wii remote controller could transform a normal video screen into an eye-popping virtual reality display. So far, the video has been viewed more than six million times.

    The video turned him into something of a geek celebrity. Video game companies have contacted him, and in September, M.I.T.'s Technology Review named him as one of its top innovators under 35. He was eventually recruited to work in the applied sciences group of Microsoft's entertainment and devices division.

    That's the power of YouTube, baby. He could've kept the idea to himself. Or maybe posted instructions for his invention on a Wii mod or hobby site. Instead, he posts it on YouTube and the whole world gets a share of his idea, as well as all his other do-it-yourself innovations. That's awesome.

    You can view the video that started it all here: Head Tracking for Desktop VR Displays using the WiiRemote. And watch the rest of Johnny Chung Lee's instructional videos here. Watch the video, and it immediately becomes clear that this guy is a badass.

    eat at la cochinita

    This is an actual fast food chain restaurant spotted by a sharp-eyed reader during a recent trip to Mexico. Come on down to Ensenada and eat at La Cochinita Japanese Food Factory, where their logo is a slant-eyed, spectacled, buck-toothed, um, red sun... or something. I think somebody has seen Breakfast at Tiffany's a few too many times. That's racist! (Thanks, Darius.)

    dr. samuel lin endorses barack obama

    Here's one fellow Asian American, Dr. Samuel Lin—a longtime Republican who served as Assistant Surgeon General and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush—on why he is voting in this election for Barack Obama for President:
    Samuel Lin, MD, PhD, MBA, MPA, MS
    Rear Admiral and Assistant Surgeon General (Retired), USPHS
    Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health (Retired), USDHHS

    As a longtime Asian American Republican, it is after careful deliberation that I have made my decision to support Senator Barack Obama for President.

    It was not easy to separate from my party's nominee for president. Nor is it an easy decision for me, as I have had the great honor of serving in appointed senior positions under two Republican presidents: Assistant Surgeon General and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. But I have concluded that it is necessary for me to openly state my support for the Presidential candidate of the opposing party.

    I have become very dissatisfied and distrustful of our reigning national Republican leadership these past eight years because of its continued missteps. Having retired from Federal service after twenty years, I have some idea of what makes a good leader of the Federal Executive Branch. And for a time, beginning at the age of 36, I was the most senior-ranked Asian Pacific American career official in the Executive Branch. But today, my hope for a better America cannot be predicated simply on blind party loyalty to support either a status quo or a very bad parody.

    Over the past eight years, very experienced senior persons in this administration have allowed us to fall into an economic morass, partly due to the home mortgage debacle and partly due to the incredulous expenditures for a mistaken war in Iraq. This war, as we finally learned, was declared for causes misled, misdirected and misguided by my Republican leadership who misread Iraq's people and politics and who now have misshackled America with an unnecessary legacy of nearly 5000 lost lives of her next greatest generation. And let's not forget the thousands of young Americans who will now live permanently disabled because of these needless battlefields. So, missteps and mistakes have lead me to conclude, "Enough, I want real change."

    I want a president who is truly committed to the good of this country. And that is one who shows this commitment through the selection of his best qualified successor in the event of his demise or incapacitation. I cannot believe one has the welfare of the country in mind by selecting anyone less than this highest standard. Of the two potential successor nominees, "best qualified" goes hands down to Senator Joe Biden.

    I want a president who seeks my vote by telling how he will equitably approach and creatively solve domestic and international problems and how America will regain her esteem in the world. On the other hand, I abhor a candidate who tries to gain my vote by constantly bashing the other candidate and perhaps even unconsciously plies subliminal denigrations of race or persona. Senator Obama is the epitome of the smart thinker and the diplomatic gentleman.

    I want someone who looks presidential, acts presidential, thinks presidentially, speaks presidentially and leads presidentially. The rest of THE job will follow through because of this kind of a person and the quality of the people he draws upon as his counsel. Senator Obama again wins all around here.

    I want a president who believes primary healthcare is a fundamental right for all persons and seeks to meet the healthcare needs of all Americans, including the 47 million uninsured persons. I want a president who believes those with pre-existing health conditions should be treated equitably in their health coverage and not penalized for their God-given challenges. I want a president who understands that employees are the lifeblood of small businesses and will ensure their health-based tax benefits, including catastrophic coverage.

    I want a president who is committed to public and preventive health services, to improving access and quality care and to promoting electronic medical records and electronic prescribing as means to saving lives early, to reducing healthcare costs, to reducing medical errors and to raising the quality of life and well-being for all Americans. I want a president who believes that comprehensive family planning programs reduce unwanted pregnancies and controversial sequelae. Senator Obama believes these matters are at the heart of advancing healthcare for all and has committed to transforming these ideas into realities for all Americans.

    Lastly, I want a president whose accomplishments and the respect of colleagues are premised upon a consistency of person and temper, a consideration of community totality, a cooperative reflex to negotiate first, a compromise in procedure but not principle and, always, a clarity of mind, vision and speech. Senator Obama has all these attributes.

    I say, give America a President who unequivocally emulates these qualities and this country will come together and will work together with him. I challenge you – Republican, Democrat or Independent - to quietly search your heart and see to whom you would entrust the lifeblood of this country. I have searched my heart and find it more trusting of Senator Barack Obama.

    God Bless America.

    Samuel Lin
    Washington, D.C.
    October 2008
    Wise words from an individual who was once, at a time, the most senior-ranked Asian Pacific American career official in the Executive Branch of the United States. Now here he is, coming over to the other side, as is well-known conservative Francis Fukuyama. Join us. This Tuesday, November 4, vote for change that's not just a slogan.

    how to spend $150,000

    We recently learned that the Republican National Committee spent a ridiculous $150,000 on clothes for Sarah Palin. Whoa. That's a six-figure budget—from public campaign money—to clothe and accessorize the Republican vice presidential nominee and her family. But hey, whatever. The woman's got to look good, even if it costs the RNC the price of a Porsche. Just don't tell that to her pal Joe Sixpack as the bank forecloses on his house.

    By the way, how much is that red leather jacket she's been recently rocking? That's straight-up Michael Jackson Thriller-era, and I love it.

    Honestly though, how much clothing and accessories does $150,000 actually get you? What does it take to be a fashionable vice presidential candidate? To find out, Slate writer Nina Shen Rastogi (who happens to be an old friend from my high school days), took a virtual shopping trip to Saks Fifth Avenue to put together a $150,000 Palin-esque fantasy wardrobe: My Saks Shopping Spree.

    Nina's shopping trip got her featured last week on NPR's Day to Day: Who Requested Sarah Palin's $150,000 Makeover? The verdict? $150,000 buys you a lot of nice shit, but it's apparently much harder to spend than you think. That money buys you a lot of blazers. Of course, I doubt it was Governor Palin doing any of the actual shopping. At least, I really hope it wasn't...


    "first asian boy"

    Thought this was pretty amusing... You say you've never dated an Asian guy before? Well here's one Asian guy, Timothy DeLaGhetto, telling you about all the fine things you're missing out on: "First Asian Boy". To the tune of that Estelle/ Kanye track. Sure, it's a little silly, and it looks like they shot it in somebody's garage, but I've got to admit, it made me smile. I like the verse about pho. (Thanks, Taz.)

    yellow apparel: when the coolie becomes cool

    Several friends sent me this link to yellow apparel: when the coolie becomes cool, a student documentary project by Anmol Chaddha, Naomi Iwasaki, Sonya Zehra Mehta, Muang Saechao and Sheng Wang examining the cultural commodification/ appropriation of Asian items in the context of social position and historical experiences of Asian Americans. Think Madonna's "Nothing Really Matters" video and Gwen Stefani's whole Harajuku obsession.

    This film was actually put together way back in 2001, but was only recently digitized and uploaded to YouTube. It was originally created for a class project, shot on Hi-8, and was never really intended to be shown elsewhere, but ended up screening at a handful of film festivals. Here's the synopsis:
    In examining the recent trendiness of Asian cultural elements, such as bindis, Buddhist beads, and Chinese character tattoos, 'yellow apparel: when the coolie becomes cool' (2000) asks whether this commodification of Asian culture signals the acceptance of Asian Americans into the cultural fabric of America.

    Produced by a group of undergraduates at UC-Berkeley, the video forces the viewer to consider the contradictions between the current fashionability of Asian symbols and the history of oppression suffered by Asian Americans. For example, what does it mean that many white folks like to dress up as Asians while, at the same time, scientist Wen Ho Lee is systematically mistreated because of his Asian appearance?

    Combining commentary and spoken word poetry, 'yellow apparel' presents the material with humor, pride, and passion.

    The documentary also draws connections between these issues as they concern Asian Americans and the ways in which Black culture is appropriated while Black communities are marginalized throughout society. While explaining the appropriation of an exotic Asia as an attempt to fill the void created by a bureaucratized suburban lifestyle in America, 'yellow apparel' does not attempt to provide a clear-cut solution but rather a critical and informed examination of the commodification of Asian culture.
    Watch yellow apparel on YouTube in three parts:

    Part One

    Part Two

    Part Three

    I've never seen this before. I'd never heard of it. It's kind of rough, and drags in a lot of spots. But it's a pretty interesting look at a lot of different issues that have never really gone away, and are still really relevant today. In fact, there have been quite a few incidents and flare-ups (as well as victories) that have happened in the last seven years that easily could've been included in this documentary. (The Abercrombie & Fitch t-shirt debacle immediately comes to mind.) Take a look, and learn a thing or two.

    sonny lee's pilot broke friends goes to fox

    I just heard from Sonny Lee, a writer on the FX sitcom It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (which, by the way, is freaking hilarious), who tells me that he and his writing partner Patrick Walsh just sold their sitcom pilot Broke Friends to Fox.

    According to Variety, the project came to the network after a competitive bidding situation with NBC. The show centers on an innocent Midwestern kid who relocates to New York, where he moves in with two scam artists. The show will be directed and executive produced by Luke Greenfield, whose credits include directing the critically acclaimed pilot Aliens in America.

    I was happy to hear about Sonny getting the It's Always Sunny gig, and even happier now to hear about this. Very cool to see Asian Americans making strides both in front of the camera and behind the scenes. Check out Sonny's blog here.

    john cho against prop 8

    This is a brief, but really moving video of John Cho voicing his concern and speaking out against Proposition 8 during a press conference last week at the Democracy Forum in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles: No on Proposition 8 John Cho - Actor, Young Father. More videos of others speaking out on the issue, including George Takei and other California state politicians, here.

    obama volunteer attacked in wisconsin

    I'm a little late posting about this, because I actually didn't hear about it until recently... I read over on the Asian Americans for Obama blog that last week, a Barack Obama volunteer, 58-year-old Nancy Takehara of Chicago, was physically assaulted by a homeowner while canvassing in Caledonia, Wisconsin: Obama campaign worker allegedly assaulted at Caledonia home.

    According the Takehara, the man grabbed her by the back of her neck, pounded on her head and screamed at her, yelling things about ACORN and not being "his people." What the hell? We're talking about a 58-year-old woman! Fortunately, she wasn't seriously injured: Obama Campaign Worker Allegedly Attacked.

    The attacker has been identified as 71-year-old Ronald Goetsch, a McCain supporter and Marine veteran who has donated to the McCain campaign. He admits that he did in fact attack Takehara: Caledonia man says he regrets his actions with Obama canvasser.

    Why is this man not in jail? As of last week, police were saying their report on the incident would be forwarded to the Racine County District Attorney's office when it was complete. It's getting ugly. It's gotten ugly. It's been a long road, and man, I cannot wait for next Tuesday to finally get here.

    UPDATE: It should be noted that the woman who was attacked, Nancy Takehara, is actually not Asian American herself—she's a Caucasian, and married to a Japanese American man. This, of course, does not make Goetsch's actions any more or less despicable.


    food network: yes asian food... no asian people?

    As someone who watches a fair amount of the Food Network, I found this video kind of amusing, though also kind of annoying. It does ask a rather interesting question: Where are Food Network's Asian Girls and Boys?

    Seriously, what gives? There's an awful lot programming about different Asian dishes and cuisines... and yet there's rarely an Asian face on the actual programming. They seem to love Asian cooking... as long as it's prepared by Caucasians. Come on! At least give us some Ming Tsai!

    response to a racist

    This is an amazing, powerful piece by Jeannie Choi on the Sojourners blog, about a brief but shocking, racist encounter she recently had with a stranger on the street: Letter to the Man Who Yelled at Me. I just think it's really well-written, so I'm reprinting it here:
    Letter to the Man Who Yelled at Me
    by Jeannie Choi

    Dear Sir,

    I am writing you this letter after much internal debate to inform you of the many realizations that erupted within me after our very brief encounter yesterday. I am writing you this letter because there is a lot I have to say to you. I am writing you this letter because after a great deal of thought, I've decided that you might like to know what you did, what I should have done, and what I hope can happen between you and me in the future.

    First, what you did. Yesterday, as I was walking down Columbia Road, you saw me from a distance. I did not see you, because I was on the phone. But you certainly saw me. You saw me in my summer dress, walking quickly because I was late for dinner with my cousins, chattering away on my cell phone, laughing at something my friend said. You saw me. You saw my black hair, my sloped forehead, brown eyes, and undoubtedly in your mind you thought something along the lines of chink, gook, oriental, Chinese chick who doesn't speak English. And for some reason, for a reason that I can't understand, you proceeded to get right in my face and yell at me. And if you can't remember what it is you yelled—Well, I do and I probably will forever:"Ching chong ching chong f***ing CHINK!"

    Maybe I should introduce myself. I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in 1982. I have since lived in Pennsylvania, California, Illinois, and now Washington DC, where you also live. I studied English literature and professional writing in college. I have a graduate degree in church history. I am an editor at a magazine. I am not a good drinker and have been known to pass out after one midori sour. I like to play racquet sports. I have a younger sister. My grandfather died of pancreatic cancer when I was a freshman in college. My dad and I cried on the phone together for the first time when he told me granddad was gone, and I cry every time I think of him to this day, seven years later. I like to listen to Talib Kweli, Bon Iver, and Ella Fitzgerald. I love love love steak. I am miserable at mental math. I'm a dog person, though I live with seven cats. I believe there's nothing more comforting than nestling a steaming cup of hazelnut dark roast between your clasped hands.

    All of these things, I wish you knew. I wish you knew me. I wish we were friends. I wish I had turned around, instead of walking away, walking faster, tears of fury streaming down my face. I wish I had run and caught up with you so I could have introduced myself in person and told you my story, and heard your own. I wish we could have apologized to each other. For one, I am sorry that my people have cordoned ourselves off into a cushy upper-middle class existence. I am sorry not enough of us, my Asian brothers and sisters and me, care to interact with people from other backgrounds. I'm sorry that we stay in our safe, Asian American Christian fellowship groups on campuses. I'm sorry that we carry generations of racism in our bones. I'm sorry that once we enter professional life, we ignore the travails of those minorities not as fortunate as ourselves. I'm sorry that sometimes I forget that I am a minority. I'm sorry that our people have never really met or fellowshipped together. It's a damn shame too, because I'm sure we could get along if we just stopped to say hello.

    I'm sorry that in the year 2008, you still haven't met me, and by me, I mean, the archetypal me. You have never met me, an Asian American who speaks English as her first language. As a result, you felt as though you could mock me and get away with it. And to a certain extent you did. But the truth is, I realized that it's partly my fault that you had never met me because I kept myself in a safe bubble and stayed comfortable in my element. I am sorry for that. I'm so sorry.

    Finally, I write to make you a pledge. I pledge to introduce myself to you. I pledge to immerse myself in my community … in this neighborhood of Columbia Heights, where blacks, latinos, whites, and Asians run into one another on the streets, at the grocery store, in restaurants. What you did yesterday made me realize that the only way for you to know better is for you to know me. So I hope we meet. I hope we become friends. I look forward to it.

    Sincerely yours,

    I think she speaks for a lot of us who have been through similar situations—"Ching chong ching chong f***ing CHINK!"—and have had it haunt us, without ever having the chance to confront the haters. I can count off a number of racist encounters in my life when I've felt helpless, and wished I could go back and tell off and/or inflict violence on the perpetrators. But what Jeannie has written here is done with such grace and eloquence, it's truly inspiring.

    download goh nakamura's ulysses... free!

    After four years in the making, Bay Area singer/songwriter Goh Nakamura recently released his second album Ulysses. I've listened to it, and you should too. It's great stuff. Goh's trying to get the word out about the album, and has issued this call to arms:
    Ulysses: A Call To Arms

    Dear Friends,

    After four years in the making, my second album, Ulysses, has officially launched!

    Whereas Daylight Savings, my first album, was written and recorded in solitude, Ulysses is a reaction to that; a celebration and collaboration with artists and people whom I've had the good fortune to meet through the first album.

    The call to arms here is helping me cross the toughest threshold; getting my music out to the masses. As an independent musician, this is the bafflingly difficult part, and it's nearly impossible to do alone. For that reason, I'm writing today to ask for your help. After much deliberation, I've decided to release this album as a free download.

    Specifically, what I'm asking you to do is:

    Download the album. Listen to it. Tell your friends on Facebook about it. Twitter it. Blog about it. I really believe there's something for everybody on this album. Ultimately, if it moves you, please purchase the limited edition CD - the beautiful packaging/artwork is worth the price alone.

    From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for joining me in this exciting, and scary part of the journey. Something tells me it's just the beginning.



    p.s. As a companion piece to my album, I've curated a mix of songs from some of my favorite musicians that you'll get with every download. In addition to wishing that the songs on Ulysses find a welcoming home, my hope is that you discover something new along with the new album that you might enjoy equally well.
    Did you read that? Free. The entire album is available as a free download. The idea is, you'll like it so much, you'll be compelled to purchase the full package (which, b the way, is really nice), but more importantly, tell everybody about it.

    What's also cool is that Goh is partnering with sixteen of his favorite bands, who are also helping to promote the release. With every download of Ulysses, you'll receive a bonus track from each of these artists, including Odessa Chen, The Invisible Cities, Scrabble, Michelle Amador and more. That's a lot of freaking good music. Get started by downloading Ulysses here.


    usc screening of valarie kaur's divided we fall

    For those of you in Southern California, here's information about a special screening happening this week at the University of Southern California. My pal Sumi informs me that they'll be screening and discussing Valarie Kaur's Divided We Fall: Americans in the Aftermath this Tuesday, October 28, 6:00pm in Taper Hall 101 at USC.

    The documentary follows Kaur's journey across America to tell the stories of hate violence against Sikhs and Muslims in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, confronting the forces unleashed in a time of national crisis and examining the larger question of "who counts" as American.

    Valarie Kaur will be present for a Q&A after the screening. The event is free and open to the public. For more information about the screening, refer to the flyer above, or go here. For more information about the Divided We Fall, including upcoming screenings, visit the film's website here.

    young vietnamese americans are voting democrat

    On Friday, I posted about the strong support for John McCain in the Vietnamese American community. That's not to suggest that there aren't also vocal Vietnamese American voters out there for Barack Obama. In fact, many young Vietnamese Americans are apparently abandoning the Republican Party in droves: Young Vietnamese-Americans turn away from GOP.

    According to a San Jose Mercury News computer analysis of nearly 30,000 new Santa Clara County voters, Vietnamese Americans age 30 and under are registering Democratic over Republican nearly 4 to 1. (The analysis was done by plugging Vietnamese surnames into a database.) And they're voting for Obama.

    Unlike many in the previous generation—emigres from war-torn Vietnam—who believe Democrats are too soft on communism and weak on defense, this new generation of young Vietnamese American voters aren't quite as quick to be buddies with John McCain. Yes, my friends. Come over to our side.

    While I'm at it, here's yet another article on the impact of changing Asian American voting patterns in this election: Growing Asian-American vote sheds passive past. It's time to stand up and be counted, Asian America. Power in numbers.

    akinori iwamura is number one

    Here's a profile on Akinori Iwamura, second baseman for the Tampa Bay Rays, who are currently facing off against the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series: From Japan to Tampa, Iwamura Lives Up to the No. 1 on His Back.

    Iwamura was a power-hitting third baseman in Japan, but he has adjusted his game and become a slap-hitting second baseman for the Rays. This season, he hit .274 and led the team with 172 hits and 91 runs.

    His post-season performance has been decent... except for Game 3 on Saturday, with no hits and no runs scored and strikeouts in several critical at-bats . The Phillies won, 5-4, grabbing a 2-1 lead in the series.

    On a side note, Iwamura is apparently obsessed with the number 1. In addition to wearing the number on his jersey, he has a silver chain with a one around his neck. And when he started training for the 2007 season, he began in Japan on January 11 at precisely 11:11:11 am. Weird.

    5th annual chicago filipino american film festival

    This is for my people in Chicago... Heads up. The 5th annual Chicago Filipino American Film Festival is happening next week, November 7-9 at the Portage Theater. It's a celebration of Filipinos in film and media! Good times. Here are some details:
    The Chicago Filipino American Film Festival's 5th Annual event is around the corner!

    WHEN: November 7th to 9th, 2008
    WHERE: Portage Theater - 4050 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago, IL 60641

    Please mark your calendars and continue to check the website for further information - www.cfaff.org.

    This year's Film Festival line-up is as follows:

    6:30 pm - CFAFF 5th Anniversary Reception (Open to Public)
    8:00 pm - Opening Night Presentation SANTA MESA
    10:30 pm - Music video awards, with performances by BAGWIS and Paolo Escobar & the Prescription

    1:00 pm - THAT ASIAN THING (documentary, with panel discussion)
    3:30 pm - SANTA MESA
    6:00 pm - FLOAT
    8:30 pm - BROWN SOUP THING

    1:00 pm - JACK en JILL (Dolphy's 1954 classic)
    4:00 pm - Short film program
    7:00 pm - NEO LOUNGE (2008 CineManila award-winning documentary)
    Here's the cool part.. thanks to the festival's generous sponsors, the festival is providing free day passes to students and seniors. But advanced registration is required. For more information about the festival, go here.

    "the reminder"

    Saw this over at the Asian American for Obama website... Check out this cool video by Brian Redondo and Corinne Manabat: The Reminder. It's a call out to the hip hop generation, young people of color and the Filipino American community to stand up and take part in one of the most important moments of our generation. Cool video, hot track, important message. Recognize your right to push back. Vote!

    henry chang's year of the dog

    The New York Times has a cool feature on author Henry Chang and his new novel Year of the Dog, the second book in his Detective Jack Yu series (the follow-up to 2006's Chinatown Beat) set in NYC's Chinatown: Murder on Mott Street. The book will be out in stores on November 1.

    Chang has apparently been called "the Dashiell Hammett of Chinatown," which is a pretty cool comparison, though the author says his books are less conventional mysteries than studies in Chinese American culture. I'm a fan of both crime fiction and Asian American literature, so I'm looking forward to reading this either way.

    I'd love to see more Asian American detective novels out there (Leonard Chang's Over the Shoulder and Naomi Hirahara's Summer of the Big Bachi come to mind) and a story set in New York's Chinatown sounds rife with possibilities. Certainly beats the hell out of Charlie Chan and Mr. Moto, right?

    Entertainment Weekly's review of Year of the Dog describes it as "a richly atmospheric panorama of New York's immigrant demimonde" and "an Asian-flavored The Wire"—a huge compliment, in my book. For more information, visit the publishers website here.


    kaffny 2009 call for submissions

    The Korean American Film Festival New York, back for its third year, is currently accepting entries for its 2009 festival. The festival is a one-day New York showcase of works by emerging and established Korean filmmakers and performers. In previous years, they've screen films like Benson Lee's Planet B-Boy and Juwan Chung's Baby. Interested in submitting your film? Read on:

    We are now accepting short film submissions from filmmakers / performers of ethnic Korean descent, of any nationality. We welcome all genres: narrative, animation, music video, documentary, experimental etc.

    There is no entry fee. The submission deadline is November 30. Please send DVD submissions, NTSC Region 0 or 1, to the address below:

    c/o Barrel
    23 W 36th Street, Suite 401
    New York, NY 10018

    For other inquires, email kaffny@gmail.com. Also, visit us at www.kaffny.com.

    KAFFNY is co-sponsored by New York University Tisch School of the Arts and The Korea Times.
    The festival is scheduled for February 2009. It looks like they're really emphasizing a desire for works from across the Korean diaspora, throughout all parts of the world. For more information, I'd point you to the KAFFNY website, but there doesn't appear to be anything there at the moment. So... um, keeping checking back. And submit your film!

    feds take down mongols motorcycle gang

    Thought this was kind of weird... Earlier this week, authorities arrested 61 members of the Mongols biker gang on federal racketeering charges. The crackdown was part of a multi-agency investigation involving more than a thousand federal agents and police in Southern California, Nevada, Oregon, Colorado, Washington and Ohio: Raid targets Mongols motorcycle gang.

    In addition to racketeering, the Mongols are charged with committing violent crimes—including murder—drug trafficking, weapons offenses and money laundering. They used guns, knives, brass knuckles, lead pipes and steel-toed boots to impose their will, often on such rivals as the Hells Angels, but also on unsuspecting members of the public who happened to cross their paths.

    The interesting part is that the U.S. Attorney is seeking to take control of the Mongols' name, which the gang has apparently trademarked, through a restraining order barring them from wearing it. Essentially, the move is meant to be a blow to the organization's identity, and thus, its criminal power.

    Oddly enough, this bust actually has little to do with Asians... I mention it here mainly because of the organization's name. Dude, they're called the Mongols. And they rock a rather racist caricature ("a pony-tailed, Genghis Khan-like figure riding a chopper") as their logo. However, according to the story, the gang is mostly made up of Latinos. I just found that kind of interesting.


    trailer for clint eastwod's gran torino

    The trailer for Clint Eastwood's Gran Torino hit the web today. We first heard about this project earlier in the year when they were casting for the movie, and it looks like it's actually shaped up to be a halfway decent movie. Here's a recent USA Today article previewing the movie: First look: Eastwood puts his scowl in high gear for 'Gran Torino'.

    Eastwood stars as a grouchy, racist Korean War vet who reluctantly befriends the Hmong family next door, and ends up in a fight to protect the neighborhood from a vicious street gang. Here's the official synopsis:
    Walt Kowalski is a widower, grumpy, tough-minded, borderline-hateful, unhappy old man who can't get along with either his kids or his neighbors, a Korean War veteran whose prize possession is a 1973 Gran Torino he keeps in cherry condition. When his neighbor Tao, a young Hmong teenager, tries to steal his Gran Torino, Kowalski sets out to reform the youth. Drawn against his will into the life of Tao's family, Kowalski is soon taking steps to protect them from the gangs that foul their neighborhood.
    Watch the trailer here. Like I said before, I'm generally a fan of Clint Eastwood's movies, but I'm just a little wary of the whole white-dude-saving-the-Asians thing. And based on the trailer, there seems to be a lot of that. But I'm all for interesting, three-dimensional Hmong American characters—something you rarely see in Hollywood movies.

    I'll admit I'm intrigued, and I'm willing to give Eastwood, both as a director and an actor, the benefit of the doubt. He is, after all, the guy had the guts to make a really interesting, complex and sympathetic movies about the Battle for Iwo Jima... from both the American and Japanese perspectives. And dude, is it just me, or does Clint Eastwood look more badass than ever at age 78?

    strong vietnamese american support for mccain

    As recent data from the National Asian American Survey indicated, roughly 51% of Vietnamese Americans nationwide support McCain—overwhelmingly more than any other Asian ethnic group. Here's a Los Angeles Times story on the strong support for McCain in Vietnamese American communities: John McCain enjoys wide support in Vietnamese communities.

    My personal disdain for John McCain is no secret. I cannot, in good conscience, vote for someone who would deem it appropriate to refer to someone as a "gook," in any context —especially as a candidate running for President of the United States. But the article does illuminate some of reasons why the Senator is such a compelling choice for so many Vietnamese voters.

    For one thing, many Vietnamese Americans are drawn to McCain's support of Vietnamese refugees. As a senator, McCain led efforts to pass legislation in 1996 that would allow the children of Vietnamese political prisoners to reunite with parents who'd already been allowed to immigrate to the U.S. That's a big one.

    And of course, there's McCain's harrowing experience as a P.O.W. and the torture he endured as a captive Navy pilot during the Vietnam War. Many of his supporters served in the South Vietnamese military and went through similar suffering at the hands of the North Vietnamese. A staunch anti-communist sentiment still runs deep in the Vietnamese community, and McCain's war record is a stamp of credibility.

    Like I said, I can't agree with this, but then again, I'm coming from a completely different perspective. There are obviously Asian Americans who are extremely passionate about John McCain for President, and this is where we'll have to agree to disagree. At this point, we have to show that the Asian American community will come out in full force to vote on November 4. Vote!

    redress remembered at janm

    For those of you in Los Angeles, check out this interesting event happening this weekend at the Japanese American National Museum. JANM presents a public program on Japanese Latin Americans who were kidnapped from Peru and held by the United States in Texas during World War II. Here are the event details:
    Redress Remembered: WWII Rendition of Japanese Latin Americans

    *Saturday, October 25, 2008
    2-4pm followed by a light reception*

    During WWII, over 2200 men, women, and children of Japanese ancestry
    were kidnapped from 13 Latin American countries and interned in
    Department of Justice camps and Army facilities in the U.S. for the
    purpose of hostage exchange. Learn more about what they endured during
    WWII, their ongoing redress struggle to hold the U.S. government
    accountable for war crimes, and lessons for present day challenges.

    *FREE! RSVP required to 213.625.0414 ext. 2222, or rsvp@janm.org
    (subject: JLA Redress).*

    Japanese American National Museum
    369 East First Street
    Los Angeles, CA 90012

    For more info: http://www.discovernikkei.org/forum/en/node/2798

    A short overview of the Japanese Latin American story:
    We all know about the Japanese American internment. But not too many are aware of what happened to Japanese Latin Americans during World War II... and what happened to them was ridiculous. Learn more at the event this Saturday in Little Tokyo. (There will be free food provided by local Peruvian restaurants!) For more information, follow the link here.

    watada won't get a second court martial

    Citing the constitutional protections against being tried twice for the same crime, a federal judge ruled this week that 1st Lt. Ehren Watada cannot face a second court martial on three of five counts resulting from his refusal to deploy to Iraq in 2006: Watada won't be retried on 3 of 5 counts.

    However, the ruling does leave open the possibility of a second prosecution on two other counts involving conduct unbecoming an officer. The judge abstained from ruling on the constitutionality of these charges, saying it was up to a military court to consider the possible "constitutional defects" of a second court-martial.

    The Army had sought a second court-martial trial on the five counts against Watada, which could have carried a sentence of up to six years in prison. We'll have to see if the Army chooses to dismiss the remaining two charges.

    Unfortunately, the ruling keeps Watada, who has been assigned to a desk job since his refusal to deploy, in kind of legal limbo. He's still not going anywhere. More on the ruling here: Judge rules for officer who refused Iraq duty.


    lost season five promo

    Ohhhhh man. This promo for the fifth season of Lost just popped up on the web. Gaaaaah. After that last crazy season-ender, the wait is killing me. Will we see a more badass Sun? Will we ever see Jin again? (Yes.) And where the hell did the island go? Man, 2009 can't come fast enough. We want answers!

    banya busted

    This week in New York, eleven members of the Banya Organization, a powerful Asian organized crime gang, were arrested by a task force of FBI, NYPD, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement investigators on federal racketeering charges: Feds Bust Alleged Asian Organized Crime Ring.

    According to prosecutors, the ten-count indictment charged 13 members of the gang with extortion, kidnaping, running an illegal gambling business and narcotic distribution. The gang is also accused of trafficking in ketamine, a horse tranquilizer and hallucinogen known as the club drug "Special K."

    The Banya Organization, which apparently raked in at least $10 million in illegal profits, is based in Chinatown in Manhattan and Flushing, but operates throughout the city. Members of the organization originally came from the Banya Village in the Fuchow region of China. More on the bust here: FEDS' KUNG POW!

    8 bloggers raise $8,000 against prop 8

    I heard from Grace Chu today, who points to this very interesting piece of news over at 8Asians... A couple of days ago, Grace and seven of her lesbian blogger friends launched the 8 Against 8 campaign, with the goal to raise $8,000 in eight days to help defeat Proposition 8, the ballot initiative that seeks to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry in California.

    So what happened? Some crazy-ass donating, baby. Donations started rolling in by the thousands of dollars per day. Within 8 hours, they had raised $2,000. In 2 days, $4,000. And less than three full days into the campaign, the eight bloggers against Prop 8 reached their initial goal of $8,000.

    Read all about it here, and on Grace's blog here. They've reached their goal, but they're not stopping there. They're going for the full eight days, raising money through Monday, October 27. Donations can be made at 8against8.com. All donations made through "8 Against 8" go directly to Equality California's No on Prop 8 campaign.

    cats' 8th annual asian comedy night

    Bay Area, represent! For my people in the South Bay, check out CATS - Contemporary Asian Theater Scene's 8th Annual Asian Comedy Night this Saturday, October 25 for two shows—at 7:00pm and 9:00pm—at Le Petit Trianon Theater in San Jose. Yes, friends. Asian Americans can be quite funny.

    Headlining the show is Kevin Shea of the Kims of Comedy tour, who is freaking hilarious; the evening also features up-and-coming comics Hasan Minhaj, a former Mr. India California who won Wild 94.9 FM Comedy Jam's Best New Comic Competition, and Joe Nguyen, making a local mark with his unique blend of "Jewish-Vietnamese" humor.

    Tickets are $20: general, $30: VIP seating, $40: on-stage seating. To purchase tickets, go to brownpapertickets.com or call 1-800-838-3006. You can also get a discount on groups of 10 or more. For more information about the event, go here.

    the return of the $54 million pants

    It's one crazy man's battle for his pants. The infamous Roy Pearson was back in court this week, trying to revive his ridiculous $54 million lawsuit against the Chungs, the owners of Custom Cleaners, over an allegedly lost pair of pants: Ex-Judge Back in Court Over His Truant Trousers.

    This guy just won't quit. He continues to make a fool out of himself and the legal system, and torment this hard-working family that has had to deal with the nonsense for the last three years. Recycling the same legal arguments he's presented before, Pearson appeared before a packed courtroom of curious onlookers.

    The entire case mainly hinges on Pearson's interpretation that a "Satisfaction Guaranteed" sign hanging inside the cleaners meant that he was entitled to the money. Pearson, you're not entitled to shit. And even if that were true, can anyone honestly justify $54 million for your Hickey Freeman brand trousers?

    Christopher Manning, the attorney for the Chungs, again challenged the notion that Custom Cleaners ever even lost Pearson's pants, saying the store has offered him the pants time and again. But Pearson says the pants aren't his. Pearson is also a loser. More here: The Pants Watch Never Stops.

    The appeals court, the District's highest, must consider all appeals of D.C. Superior Court decisions. The judges are expected to return a decision in two to four months. Depending on the outcome, either side could ask the entire nine-judge appellate court to review the case. And then, the parties could ask the U.S. Supreme Court to weigh in. Good Lord, let's hope it doesn't go that far.

    vote jerry chan's dj:la into slamdance

    My man Jerry Chan's kickass short film DJ:LA is trying to get into Slamdance (the other Park City, Utah film festival), and needs your online votes. You can view and vote for the film here. You can vote until the end of this month.

    The film with the most votes at the end of the month will move on to compete at the end of the year against all other monthly winners. If he wins, he'll get to screen the film at Slamdance. And that would be very cool. Vote for DJ:LA!

    kim ng is not the mariners' new general manager

    Aw man. Man! After all the hope and hype, it looks like Kim Ng will not be the Seattle Mariners' new general manager. On Wednesday, Jack Zduriencik was named the team's new GM: M's hire Brewers' Jack Zduriencik as GM.

    Who the heck is Jack Zduriencik? And how the hell do you pronounce his name? Zduriencik has been with the Milwaukee Brewers organization for nine years, most recently serving as their vice president and spec.... zzzzzz.

    Sorry. I've lost interest. My level of curiosity concerning upper management hiring in Major League Baseball just took a massive nosedive. I guess we'll have to wait a little longer to see baseball's first female, Asian American general manager.

    hanging out with barack's sister

    Here's another article, from Salon.com, on Maya Soetoro-Ng—Senator Barack Obama's sister, who happens to be Asian American: Tea with Barack Obama's sister. It's a pretty good interview. Maya, as you probably know by now, is half-Indonesian. She and Barack were both raised by the same mother and grandparents.

    It's funny. Maya admits that, like so many of us, the first time she began to seriously consider the possibly of her brother becoming President of the United States was after he made that now-famous speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. That was definitely a huge turning point in his career.

    I don't know about you, but from day one I've been excited about the prospect of a President who has Asian Americans so prominently part of his background and heritage (among many other qualifications, of course). Let's keep fighting the good fight towards November 4th and beyond...


    street fighter japanese teaser poster

    This Japanese poster for the upcoming Street Fighter movie recently popped on the web. We get a soft-focus glimpse of Kristin Kreuk donning the signature blue high-collar outfit. Based on the popular video game with about a zillion characters, this movie is obviously focusing on Chun-Li. When in doubt, Hollywood always goes with the hot Asian girl, I guess.

    While I'm mildly curious about it, I have a pretty strong feeling that this is movie, directed by Andrzej Bartkowiak, is going to be fairly disastrous. View the Japanese website (with nothing currently on it) here. Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li is scheduled to open in theaters in February 2009.

    justice for saigon grill workers

    Whoa. Looks like it's time for Saigon Grill to pay up. A federal judge has awarded $4.6 million in back pay and damages to 36 delivery workers at two Saigon Grill restaurants in Manhattan, finding blatant and systematic violations of minimum wage and overtime laws: For $2-an-Hour Restaurant Deliverymen, a $4.6 Million Judgment.
    In a decision dated Monday and released on Tuesday, Magistrate Judge Michael H. Dolinger of United States District Court in Manhattan found violations of federal and state wage laws in awarding up to $328,000 to some of the deliverymen. On issue after issue, Judge Dolinger ruled against Saigon Grill and its owners, Simon and Michelle Nget, saying they paid $520 a month to many deliverymen who worked more than 260 hours each month. This meant their pay came to less than $2 an hour, far less than the federal and state minimum wage.
    Two bucks an hour! That's downright criminal. The deliverymen, all immigrants from Fujian Province in China, testified that they were required to work 11 to 13 hours a day, usually six days a week. But their employers testified that the deliverymen had to work only at peak delivery times: 11:30am to 2:30pm, and 5:30 to 9:30pm. They lied.

    The judge found that the company had often illegally deducted pay—from $20 to $200—when deliverymen committed infractions like letting the restaurant door slam on their way out (wtf?) or failing to log in a delivery. The judge also ruled that the company had improperly made the deliverymen buy and maintain the bicycles and motorbikes they used to make deliveries, concluding that Saigon Grill should've paid for those as required tools of the trade.

    Justice. This has to be pretty awesome news for these workers, who have been fighting this for a really long time. It could have been time and money that they might never have gotten back. And it's not like they were asking for a lot. They just wanted what they were owed. Now Saigon Grill has to fork over the money and deal with the bad press. Big victory props to the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, who represented the deliverymen.

    UPDATE: Here's a good follow-up op-ed piece in New York Times on this week's ruling for the Saigon Grill workers: Pork Fried Abuse. Awful headline though.

    it's good to be the queen

    17-year-od Courtney Chou Lee has been named queen of the 2009 Tournament of Roses: Arcadia teen is queen of 120th Rose Parade. The Arcadia High School teen will reign over activities culminating in the historic, world-famous Rose Parade and Rose Bowl game on New Year's Day. Basically, it will be her duty to look pretty, ride the float, and wave.

    Courtney was chosen queen from among seven Tournament of Roses princesses who were chosen last week. More than 1,100 young Pasadena-area women and teens applied for a spot on the Royal Court. But there can be only one Queen, suckas! More here: Tournament of Roses names queen.

    for sale: big-ass video collection

    In New York, the owner of the East Village's famed Kim's Video store is putting his vast movie collection up for sale: VID KING READY TO UNWIND. Facing declining revenues, Yongman Kim is making all his 55,000 films available to a worthy buyer... but there are some strict conditions.

    The buyer has to purchase the collection in its entirety, house it in 3,000 square feet of space and allow access to those who used to rent films at the store, "charging a minimum membership fee." Kim has spent over 20 years amassing the 55,000 films, so it's no wonder he's got a bit of an attachment to this collection.

    Kim's situation actually strikes me with a little nostalgia. Once upon a time, during the better of the 1980s, my parents owned a video store. It was a small, modest operation, and we had nowhere near as many titles as this guy, but it had a huge role developing my love of cinema. I was kind of sad when we sold it off, so in a way, I understand where this guy is coming from.

    who's got the power?

    Asian Americans, are you feeling the power? Are you feeling it?! According to this Washington Post article, Asian Americans voters in Virginia, highly organized and registered in record numbers, see themselves poised to play a pivotal role in the outcome of the presidential race in this highly contested state: Asian Americans Feeling the Power.

    According to leaders of the large, affluent communities of Korean Americans, Vietnamese Americans and Indian Americans in Northern Virginia, sentiment among those groups favors Barack Obama, although John McCain enjoys a core of loyal support among older Asian refugees who suffered at the hands of communist regimes.

    Remember, these are the voters who played a huge role in the 2006 Senate race in Virginia, helping Democrat Jim Webb edge out and defeat incumbent George "Macaca" Allen... and effectively shifting the balance of power in Congress. It seems they could do it again. Anyway, read the article. It's pretty interesting.


    parry shen in the tivo

    Checking out this funny/creepy Halloween short, The Tivo, starring Parry Shen. It's directed by Adam Green, who did the acclaimed indie horror film Hatchet. He's apparently shot a film like this for his fans/family/friends for the past 10 years, every Halloween. Parry's pretty funny in it. Watch the short here. You'll never look at your Tivo the same way again.

    revisiting "dear john mccain"

    Did I mention that John McCain hates gooks? He will hate them as long as he lives. I might've mentioned it recently. I just think it's rather important than you know. And Raymond Leon Roker in the Huffington Post agrees with me: How Come McCain's "Gook" Slur Isn't Bigger News?

    But what I really want to share is this kickass blog entry by Michelle Myers of spoken word duo Yellow Rage, which revisits Bao Phi's poem "Dear Senator McCain," and so eloquently express the anger that I feel over this issue, and this man who could be President. I'm reprinting it here, with Michelle's permission:

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    Revisiting "Dear Senator McCain"
    Michelle Myers
    "I hate the gooks. I will hate them as long as I live."
    -John McCain, February 17, 2000

    "I will call any interrogator that tortured me, a gook. I can't believe that anybody doesn't believe these interrogators and prison guards were cruel and sadistic people who deserve the worst appellations possible. Gook is the kindest appellation I can give."
    -John McCain, February 17, 2000

    'Cause we soft spoken, doesn't mean that we've forgotten
    Your bootie smells rotten and one day you will be gotten
    -Lauryn Hill, "Family Business," The Fugees' The Score
    John McCain's people have deftly flippt the script on Barack Obama over the last 2 weeks. They've told us that The Maverick is back in full effect--the original straight talker. Behold our very own Greatest American Hero--the true agent of change for the American people. After all, they reminded us as McCain was introduced at the RNC before giving his acceptance speech, "When you've lived in a box, you put your people first."

    And so it began: the narrative being sold to us about McCain--a narrative dominated almost exclusively by his time as a POW during the Vietnam War. It's been shoved in our faces so much we can recite the story by heart: McCain shot down on a bombing mission over North Vietnam. McCain pulled from his wrecked plane by North Vietnamese soldiers, both arms broken. McCain taken to "Hanoi Hilton" where he and other POWs were interrogated and tortured. Etc. Etc. Etc.

    I read somewhere on the internet that McCain's acceptance speech contained 43 sentences about his POW experience while only 8 recounted his 25 years on Capitol Hill. And so, for me, if McCain wants us to swallow this War Hero narrative as the fodder for his character and his qualification for the Presidency, then let us really open it up to scrutiny. And that means us gooks are coming back to haunt him.

    I don't care that he made his gook reference 8 years ago and that he claimed he meant it specifically for his interrogators. I don't care that he apologized for it under political pressure and a concern for a potential APIA swing vote in the CA primary while running for President in 2000. If currently he is continuously going to invoke his POW years and thrust before us images of his and America's enemy, and in doing so transplant Vietnamese faces to embody the word "enemy," then he is opening himself up to a resuscitated examination of his use of the word gook in referring to this enemy. Because what we should care about in helping us decide if this experience indeed makes him fit to be President is his initial, honest, straight-talker response when reporters first called him on it back in 2000: "I hate the gooks. I will hate them as long as I live."

    I could rehash the criticisms from the APIA community at the time about McCain's blatant insensitivity and ignorance in his use/defense of a broadly racist term for Asian Americans; I could compare it to the word "nigger" and other racial epithets and complain that he wouldn't have been let off so easy if he had offended black people or other racial minority groups--all of these points are still valid (and can be readily found on the internet), and the whole incident still pisses me off. But in revisiting this word gook, what I really want to do is put McCain's statements in a context with current political issues and consider what it may reveal about how he would handle foreign affairs, military operations, and the war in Iraq.

    It bothers me that McCain's POW years have become so commodified by his campaign. If you visit his website, the homepage opens up with 2 back-to-back videos chronicling his POW experience and lauding his heroism. The narrative highlights his sacrifices and dedication to his country, fighting for American freedom, and having a brave heart "to never surrender." Military images abound. Pictures of Vietnamese people situate them in no uncertain terms as the enemy--both John McCain's enemy and America's enemy.

    The forgotten narrative of the Vietnam War is that of innocent Vietnamese civilians--their suffering, their loss. It is convenient that America's nostalgia for war, especially those that involve Asian people and countries, becomes one that forgets the desperate, pained Asian faces that the U.S. military/government purported to protect and save but actually ended up being complicitous in harming whether, in Vietnam specifically, through directly executed or coordinated napalm attacks, mass murders of civilians (My Lai), gang rapes of young Vietnamese girls, or the abandonment of thousands of babies fathered by U.S. military personnel. And as U.S. soldiers torture and humiliate prisoners at Abu Ghraib, kill innocent Iraqi civilians including women and children, bomb civilians in Afghanistan, fail to locate and catch Osama bin Laden, and become exhausted and bitter through several tours of duty away from family and friends, I am not reassured that these neglected narratives can be revised under John McCain. who finds such personal/political meaning and comfort in his "Look-at-Me-the Tortured-War-Hero" story.

    I cannot trust a man who has proudly insisted "I hate the gooks" to lead us out of Iraq to peace when he's ready to stay there for 100 years or however long it takes to "win." I cannot trust this man, John McCain, to responsibly address the U.S. government's oversight of CIA interrogation techniques, i.e. torture, or prevent another Abu Ghraib when in February 2008 he voted against an anti-torture bill and supported Bush's veto of the bill after it was passed by the Senate. I cannot trust John McCain not to take Western/American, fundamentalist Christian-Judeo war-mongering to Iran, Palestine, Afghanistan, Pakistan, China, or North Korea. Precisely because of his personal Tortured-War-Hero-POW narrative, I do not trust John McCain.

    Most troubling to me about McCain's declaration and defense of his using the word gook is his unapologetic insensitivity to how it both completely conflates and demonizes all Vietnamese people--which can very easily be extended to all people of Asian descent. His vehement hatred towards "the gooks" bothers me too. In using such a hatefully racist term to talk about his North Vietnamese captors, I cannot believe this is a man who would work successfully with the diverse peoples and cultures of the Middle East or will make the effort to bridge the divide between Christianity, Islam, and other religious beliefs practiced around the world. War and hatred; fear and loathing; fighting and survival; Gook and Terrorist/Muslim/Other; America vs. Vietnam/Iraq; Hero vs. Enemy--how can the dominant personal/political narrative of such a man give us confidence that he can take us in a direction of progress and change and, ultimately, peace both at home and abroad as President of the United States? But then again, isn't that the point--to keep us at war indefinitely until all America's real and imagined enemies are crushed?

    In his poem "Dear Senator McCain," Bao Phi seizes McCain's POW/gook narrative and spits it back in his face, holding him accountable for his hypocrisy and insensitivity. Bao is a Vietnamese American spoken word poet from Minneapolis, and he wrote this poem after the gook-word incident 8 years ago, but it is relevant to our present political discussion for all the ways that I have already outlined. Full of irony and sarcasm, "Dear Senator McCain" exposes the inherent racism of McCain's statement, situates McCain's comments in the contentious American militarist discourse that surrounds the Vietnam War and all of America's war narratives from Asia, and demands that he take responsibility for his wholesale demonization of a group of people that crosses generations, continents, soldiers, civilians, refugees, immigrants, citizens. What hope are we to have with such a man representing the American people to the rest of the world? How can we read Bao's poem and not think about the current war narrative being constructed of Muslims--the conflation of "Muslim" and "Arab" and "Middle Eastern" with "enemy" and "terrorist" and "evil"?

    We cannot let such narratives dictate history and determine our lives. We must reclaim our narratives, humanizing them so that the fuller story is told and calling out those which demonize. And we can set off this corrected retelling with Bao Phi's scathing "Dear Senator McCain."

    Many thanks to Bao Phi for giving me permission to reprint his poem on our blog. Thanks to all of you who have read my long-winded set up of Bao's poem.

    Always love and peace,

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    By Bao Phi

    Dear Senator McCain

    I write this letter on jungle leaves
    and the skin of a white man.

    I am a gook, a jungle spook,
    a steamed apparition
    of piss and foot rot
    building torture devices from old rotary phones
    and the rusted hulks of American cars

    I am that gook, when you turn on the light
    I scramble away and if you see me
    you know there's ten more
    where I came from
    catching tracer bullets like fireflies
    in my teeth
    my language like malaria
    sweating itself into your brain

    I am a gook, riding on top of water buffaloes,
    waving welfare checks like a white flag of surrender
    but shot in the back by your finest when they thought
    I was standing in a martial arts stance

    I am a gook, miscellaneous bomb bait,
    agent orange evolved primate
    creeping thru cashmoney colored jungles
    and masturbating neon onto Wall Street
    slit eyes fixed on white women
    fingers like 10 long drips of grease

    I am that villain in a white lab coat
    trading bomb secrets for red cash
    stashing code in surgery folded eyelids

    I am gook, no speak no Engleesh
    too much headache, tell me go back to my country,
    motherfuck you eh?

    I am indeed a gook, polished gold yellow
    at Yale, driving my Ferrari horse-powered dick
    deep into your spread-legged streets
    while Miss America screams out an orgasmic "There goes the neighborhood!"

    I am gook
    that gook waiting in that nightmare jungle
    that gook in front of you with 17 items in the 10 items or less lane at the supermarket
    that gook born with a grenade in his head
    that gook that got a better grade in your shop class
    that gook uppity enuf to stand with his brothers and sisters and demand an apology
    that gook who patted you on the back and said "That's okay--I hate gooks too."

    I am that gook who stole your bomb secrets,
    that gook that held you hostage,

    that gook whose culture your daughter robbed for her tattoos, trinkets and t-shirts
    that gook whose language your son attempts to speak so he can crack some nookie
    from the fortune cookie

    I am the gook who blazed you
    the gook who saved you

    I am gook, chink, slope, slanteye, victor, charlie, chan, suzie wong, dickless rice picker, model minority, binder of feet, your favorite sushi waitress, piss colored devil, nip, jap, snow falling on cedars, miss saigon, memoir of a geisha, joy luck club, ally mcbeal,

    I am gook,
    I ate your motherfuckin cat

    I am that gook who will hang himself on Nike shoelaces
    so your sons and daughters can play pickup or NCdoubleA final four,
    I am that 14 cents an hour gook whose ghosts paint those Gap commercials white,
    I am that gook that took over your pool hall and your roller skating rink,
    I am this gook, I am that gook, I am your gook, I am my gook
    I am that gook, popping out of a motherfuckin bowl of rice
    to ask:
    what's the difference
    between an Asian
    and a gook
    to you?

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    You see, to John McCain, we're all gooks.

    angry archive