a song for ourselves premieres tonight

The Los Angeles Times has a good article on filmmaker Tad Nakamura and his new documentary A Song For Ourselves, which has its world premiere tonight with a big ol' party at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center in Little Tokyo: Tadashi Nakamura completes his documentary trilogy about Asian Americans.

The film is a tribute to late musician Chris Iijima, an influential figure in the nascent Asian American empowerment movement of the 1970s. It's a moving, wonderfully made film, and the third in Tad's trilogy of documentaries on Japanese American history, which began with the films Yellow Brotherhood and Pilgrimage.

Tonight's premiere looks like it's going to be a really great event. In addition to the screening, the premiere will reunite two of Iijima's old bandmates, Nobuko Miyamoto and Charlie Chin, and will feature performances by hip hop acts Blue Scholars, Bambu and Kiwi. (If you haven't downloaded heard the A Song for Ourselves Mixtape yet, get it now.)

I don't know what the ticket situation is -- last I heard, online tickets were sold old -- but you might have luck at the door. For more information go to the A Song for Ourselves website here.


angry reader of the week: jessica ko

Once again, it's time to meet the Angry Reader of the Week, spotlighting you, the very special readers of this website. Over the years, I've been able to connect with a lot of cool folks, and this is a way of showing some appreciation and attention to the people who help make this blog what it is. This week's reader actor-slash-a-lot-of-other-labels Jessica Ko, coming at you from NYC. Meet Jess...

a thousand words by ted chung

This is a really wonderful short film, A Thousand Words by Ted Chung, I saw last year on the film festival circuit. It looks like it's been making the rounds on the internets. I think you'll enjoy it. (Don't you really want to know what happens after the film ends?) I also recommend watching Ted Chung's other film, Mike's. Good stuff.

state of the asian american and pacific islander community

With President Obama giving his pseudo-state of the union address to Congress this week, Congressman Mike Honda also issued the following statement on the State of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community, touching on issues like the economy, housing, education, health care and immigration:

Washington, DC - Today, Congressman Mike Honda (D-CA) issued the following statement on the State of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community:

"Today, our nation faces tremendous challenge. People throughout our country are losing their jobs, their homes, and struggling to keep their families afloat. We are in tough times, and as the President stated in his State of the Union address on Tuesday, we will rebuild together, and by developing our resilience, we will emerge stronger and more unified as a nation.

"As the nation reflects upon the state of the Union, Asian American and Pacific Islander communities must not be forgotten. Over 15 million strong, the Asian American and Pacific Islander community is one of the fastest growing and most diverse racial groups in the United States. With close to 50 ethnic groups among our ranks, we have made tremendous economic, political, and social contributions to the United States.

"This new Congress presents particular opportunities as there are three new Asian American Pacific Islander Members of Congress, namely Reps. Anh Cao and Gregorio Sablan - who are also new members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC)- and Rep. Steve Austria.

"The Asian American and Pacific Islander community is also fortunate that we have a President who understands the particular challenges that our community faces. During his campaign, Barack Obama became the first presidential candidate in history to issue a blueprint geared toward strengthening the Asian American and Pacific Islander community, demonstrating his nuanced understanding of our community's needs.

"CAPAC members are hopeful that we will be able to roll up our sleeves and work together with our colleagues to solve the major problems facing our nation today."


"President Obama's comprehensive strategy to rebuild our economy includes short-term solutions that reinvigorate our credit flows, as well as long-term investments in education, energy, and healthcare. These plans will provide much needed support to strengthen our communities.

"Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders contribute immensely to the U.S. economy. Asian-owned firms experienced growth at 12.7 percent between 2000 and 2006. In 2002, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders owned 4.7 percent of all U.S. firms, 6.1 percent of employer firms, and 4.3 percent of nonemployer firms. In 2002, there were 1.1 million Asian-owned firms in America, sustaining more than 2.2 million jobs, generating almost $327 billion in revenues. There are 28, 900 Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander-owned businesses, supporting 29,319 employees. The majority of Asians in the U.S. labor force are immigrants, and among self-employed Asians, 80.8 percent are immigrants, and for Pacific Islanders, that share is 67.9 percent.

"Despite our successes, AAPI small businesses are in need of greater resources and attention from the Administration and Congress. Minority-owned firms, while they create jobs, make significantly less than white-owned firms. On average, for every dollar made by a white-owned firm, Pacific Islander-owned firms make about 59 cents; Asian-owned businesses made 56 cents. Investing federal dollars in this growing sector will spur continued job creation for our workforce.


"Asian American and Pacific Islander communities have not been immune to the foreclosure crisis. According to research conducted by the National Association of Realtors, the use of subprime loans among Asian Americans grew by 181 percent from 2004 to 2005. From 2004-06, over 17 percent of loans made to Asian Americans were subprime loans.

"Few banks have bilingual, bicultural staff or offer information about the home purchasing process for AAPI immigrant communities, which in turn contributes to a rise of high-cost loans. We must continue to invest in financial literacy education that is culturally and linguistically appropriate, and build capacity of our community based organizations to help our communities respond to the foreclosure crisis.


"I applaud President Obama's commitment to developing a world-class, competitive education system. To strengthen our economy, we need to invest in long-term solutions such as education. For Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, it may be tempting to assume that all of our students are faring well in school.

"While our community as a whole has a higher rate of individuals holding a bachelor's degree, Southeast Asians have significantly lower percentages of individuals holding a bachelor's. Only 17 percent of Vietnamese Americans, 7 percent of Laotian Americans, 6 percent of Cambodian Americans, and 3 percent of Hmong Americans hold bachelor's degrees. English language learners face some of the toughest challenges among Asian American and Pacific Islander students, yet they are largely underserved. 79 percent of Asian American students, and 43 percent of Pacific Islander students speak a language other than English at home.

"Last congress, CAPAC successfully advocated for the creation of a designation for Asian American and Pacific Islander Serving Institutions. This designation provides certain colleges and universities with grants needed to expand their capacities to assist underserved and low-income Asian American and Pacific Islander students.

"If we do not dispel the myth that all of our students are doing well in school, we will miss the opportunity to fully engage these students, who have so much potential to contribute to our communities.


"I applaud President Obama's commitment to reducing the cost of healthcare by eliminating inefficiencies, as well as investing in preventative care. CAPAC is dedicated to access to affordable healthcare for all, which includes a commitment to eliminate health disparities facing minority communities.

"There are many health disparities that exist among our communities. From 2004-2006, 17 percent of Asian Americans and 24 percent of Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders do not have health insurance compared to 12 percent of non-Hispanic whites. AAPIs are also less likely than white Americans to have employment-based health insurance coverage. Additionally, AAPI women have the lowest rate of cancer screening compared to other ethnic groups and AAPIs make up over half of the cases of chronic Hepatitis B. CAPAC along with our Tri-Caucus partners, the Congressional Black and Hispanic Caucuses, have introduced the Health Equity and Accountability Act that would help close the racial and ethnic disparities in our communities.


"From CAPAC's perspective, immigration itself is a long-term investment strategy for our nation. In particular, efficient, fair and effective avenues for legal, family-based immigration are vital to keep America strong for generations to come. Family members pool resources to start and run businesses that create American jobs, purchase homes, and send their American children to college to obtain the skills they need to contribute to our economy."

"We also fail to attract and keep the talent that maintains America's competitiveness in the global economy if those coming to share their skills face long-term or permanent separation from close family members."

"In the Asian community, two million Asians are waiting to be reconnected with family members, stuck in decades-long immigration backlogs. Those working hard in the shadows of American society without documentation include 1.5 million Asians. We must also restore due process, fairness, and respect for civil liberties in the immigration system. CAPAC members look forward to working with our colleagues in Congress as well as the Obama Administration to ensure an open and inclusive dialogue on comprehensive immigration reform.


"The state of the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities is also very much tied to the quality of information that is available about our populations. In order to effectively address challenges in all of these policy areas, our Caucus, as well as other lawmakers and advocates around the country, require accurate data about the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. There must be both disaggregated data available by ethnic subgroup, given the diversity of our community, as well as non-disaggregated data.

"For this reason, CAPAC is committed to ensuring an accurate 2010 decennial census that counts all of our communities. Because many in our communities are linguistically or socially isolated from the mainstream, particular targeted outreach becomes tremendously important.

White House Initiative

"Our community has much to look forward to with President Obama's new Administration. The President has committed to restoring the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. The mission of the Initiative is to coordinate activities throughout the Administration that seek to outreach to and serve the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. I look forward to working with the Obama Administration to ensure that the Initiative will have robust support.

"Despite the challenges we face, we are hopeful that we will be able to makes strides as a community. Members of CAPAC are excited and hopeful to advance our legislative and other priorities in the 111th Congress. We will work with President Obama, and other Members of Congress, particularly with our Tri-Caucus colleagues from the Congressional Black and Hispanic Caucuses, to keep the American dream of equal opportunity alive."
This text comes courtesy of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), comprised of members of Congress of Asian and Pacific Islander descent and members who have "strong dedication to promoting the well-being of the AAPI community."

To learn more about CAPAC, go here. Also read CAPAC's statement regarding the Obama's nomination of Gary Locke as Commerce Secretary: CAPAC Applauds Nomination of Gary Locke as Commerce Secretary and Urges Swift Confirmation.

off to ecaasu 2009

All right, folks. If you're a student on the east coast, you're hopefully headed to ECAASU 2009 this weekend. It looks like it's going to be a really fun, engaging weekend of speakers, workshops and networking. Speakers/entertainment include New York City Councilman John Liu, comedian Danny Cho, spoken word artist Bao Phi and the creative team behind Secret Identities, among others.

Generally, it seems like a great opportunity to meet some folks who are involved in some really interesting things, and connect with what's going on in the community. I'll be there to lead a workshop and deliver one of the keynote addresses. (Wish me luck.) If you're going to the conference, please say hello. See you there!


asian arts initiative presents mango chutney on mesa street

For all you theater fans in the Philadelphia area, you might want to check out the South Asian comedy Mango Chutney of Mesa Street, happening this weekend, February 27-28, at the Asian Arts Initiative in Chinatown. Here are the details:
Neal Dandade in

Friday & Saturday, February 27 – 28, 2009, 7:30 p.m.
Please note: Doors open at 7 p.m. There is no late seating for this show. Paid tickets will be held until 7:30 p.m.

$15 general admission; $20 premium tickets (includes advanced seating)


An Indian grandmother and the elephant-headed god Ganesh join forces in the West Texas town of El Paso. With a dash of spice, a spoonful of chutney, and lots of homemade samosas, they create a West-meets-East adventure about her favorite grandson and his journey through two cultures. Created and performed by Neal Dandade and directed by Maria Möller.

For more information
215.557.0455, www.asianartsinitiative.org
For more information about the show, visit the Asian Arts Initiative website here. And get your tickets here. And for you, good readers, a discount. Just enter or say "community" when you purchase your tickets, and you get 20% off. (Thanks, Sabina.)

bobby jindal's star plummets

It was supposed to be Bobby Jindal's big moment, his coming out party, his time to shine... instead, it's looking like it was resounding flop. The Louisiana Governor was chosen to deliver the televised Republican response to Obama's first speech to Congress on Tuesday night.

It was the GOP putting Jindal on a national platform and positioning him as a fresh new face and rising star to watch in the party. Unfortunately, it looks like that star took a huge nosedive after the speech: Governor Jindal, Rising G.O.P. Star, Plummets After Speech.

Conservative commentators were apparently among the harshest critics, calling his delivery "animatronic" (the comparisons to Kenneth from 30 Rock were apt), his prose cheesy and his message uninspired. And these were critics from his own party, across the board, unimpressed. Ouch.

I wonder what this means for Jindal's future in the GOP. The shine has sort of worn off, at least for the moment. More here: How Bad Was Jindal? I particularly enjoyed Disgrasian's take on the Republican response: Bobby Jindal: EPIC FAIL.

manaa, east west players vs. the last airbender

Another update on this Avatar: The Last Airbender live action Hollywood movie all-white cast situation... Our friends at the Media Action Network for Asian Americans, who recently started a blog, have officially jumped into the fray with a letter to the producer:
The Last Airbender - Letter to the Producer

February 11, 2009

Dear Mr. Mercer:

I left two messages with you--one with your assistant Ricky on Monday and another with Lauren yesterday. I'm writing on behalf of the Media Action Network for Asian Americans (MANAA), which is dedicated to monitoring the media and advocating for balanced, sensitive, and positive depiction and coverage of Asian Americans. Since 1992, we have consulted with movie studios and met regularly with the top four television networks about ensuring diversity.

We would like Avatar: The Last Airbender to become a successful movie trilogy. However, given the recent outcry over the lack of Asian/Asian American actors in the lead roles, we fear bad word of mouth may doom the first film before it gets off the ground and stop the potential franchise dead in its tracks. Indeed, the outrage over its casting has been greater than anything we've witnessed in the last several years. On Entertainment Weekly's website alone, there are 78 pages of comments from people who feel a strong emotional connection with Avatar, and most of their responses are strongly negative with many threatening to boycott the film.

Surely you have already seen or at least heard some of these concerns. While the show Mike DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko created was a great success in creating a fantasy world inspired heavily by Asian and Inuit elements, M. Night Shyamalan chose Caucasian actors to play all four main characters. Recently, Prince Zuko's character went to an actor of Asian descent, but otherwise, the only Asian presence in the film is in the sets and background characters.

Compared to other shows, including many anime imports, Avatar: The Last Airbender was unique because it was created for an American audience yet used Asian faces for its main characters. We appreciated that the Nickelodeon series (with the help of Asian American consultants) was intelligent enough to avoid using many of the common Asian stereotypes--both positive and negative--often seen in the media, and that it even made strides in casting Asian American voice talent.

The Asian American community, and the movie-going public at large, is used to seeing Asian men depicted as villains and rarely get the opportunity to see Asian heroes they can get behind and cheer for. This is also an historic opportunity to give Asian American actors a chance to shine in a big-budget film franchise which would bolster their careers for future projects. You will get deserved credit for launching those careers and can break down barriers by understanding that the audience that loved the television series is ready (and expects) to see Asian Americans playing those characters on the big screen.

One of the reasons the Avatar television series was so well-received was that our former Vice President, Edwin Zane, served as its cultural consultant for the first two seasons and helped the producers avoid ethnic missteps. Likewise, please take advantage of us as a resource. We invite you to dialogue with us about the film so that it can really be something fans of the show (and potentially new future fans of the movie) can get excited about. I can be reached at [number removed] or [email removed].


Guy Aoki
Founding President, MANAA

Mike DiMartino
Bryan Konietzko
Dan Martinsen, EVP corporate communications, Nickelodeon
Jenna Lutrell, executive in charge of production, Nickelodeon
East West Players, the nation's premier Asian American theatre organization, has also gotten involved with a letter of their own to The Last Airbender's producers. I'm told they don't want it posted in text online, but you can view it as a PDF here.

East West Players was co-founded over forty years ago by late veteran actor Mako, who, ironically, supplied the voice of Uncle Iroh for thirty episodes on the Avatar animated series.

And East West Players' current production, Ixnay, running now through March 15, features a cast of talented Asian American actors, including Dante Basco, who played the voice of Prince Zuko on Avatar for 48 episodes.

A number of other Asian American actors also had small voice roles throughout the series. They seemed to care enough to cast Asian actors for the voices of animated characters... but not when it meant actually seeing such people on screen. They leave that to the pretty white people.

Hell, what am I saying? Asian characters played by actual Asian actors in a Hollywood movie? What a preposterous idea. Anyway, for all the latest updates on this stupid Avatar casting saga, go here: Saving the World with Postage.

gang rape pervasive across cambodia

This is a sickening, outrageous NPR story about the pervasive problem of gang rape in Cambodia: Gang Rape Pervasive Across Cambodia.

According to the story, gang rape, referred to as "bauk," has become something of a social phenomenon -- a socially accepted form of recreation -- among young middle-class Khmer men in the city. It generally happens to sex workers, but it can also happen to "normal" girls. It's shocking and disgusting, and shouldn't happen to anyone.

The story offers a number of reasons why this might be happening, but I think the most important point it raises is how it can be addressed: high-level government condemnation of bauk, something it has thus far failed to do publicly. While there have apparently been arrests for gang rape, there have been no known prosecutions.

This needs to stop. I know, that's easy for me to say as I sit comfortably here in front of my computer. But I don't even want to think what's going to happen to future generations in Cambodia if this "past time" continues...

the changing face of bellerose

This is an interesting New York Times story on the changing neighborhood of Bellerose, Queens, which is one of those areas that is undergoing a demographic shift, like much of the United States: The Great Divide.

Old establishments and favorite local hangouts closing down, new developments going up. A mostly white enclave of Irish, Italian and German families giving way an influx of immigrants from South Asia. It's a snapshot of one neighborhood, but it could easily mirror changing communities across America. It's a scenario we've seen over and over and over again.

And naturally, change doesn't come easy, as evidenced by protest from Bellrose residents over the closing of the Frozen Cup -- now the future site of a 44-room hotel by South Asian developers. But what were they really protesting? The loss of their favorite ice cream spot? Or the fact that the area is being "taken over" by immigrants? Ah, growing pains.

compensation for filipino veterans

Some more information on the provision tucked inside the stimulus bill authorizing compensation -- $198 million -- for Filipino World War II veterans. Those who have become U.S. citizens get $15,000 each; non-citizens get $9,000: U.S. to pay 'forgotten' Filipino World War II veterans.

Of course, this is money they should've seen over sixty years ago. During the war, the Philippines was a U.S. commonwealth. The U.S. military promised full veterans benefits to Filipinos who volunteered to fight. More than 250,000 joined. Then, in 1946, President Truman signed the Rescission Act, taking that promise away.

Seems like an easy move to rectify this injustice, but it's taken years and years. Many of the veterans are aging, ailing or have already passed. According to the American Coalition for Filipino Veterans, only about 15,000 of these troops are still alive today. It's about time they were treated with the dignity they deserve.


obama announces gary locke as commerce secretary

This morning, as we heard earlier this week, President Obama announced former Washington Governor Gary Locke as his administration's Secretary of Commerce: Obama offers 3rd pick, Gary Locke, for Commerce. Here's the transcript of his remarks, courtesy of the White House Press Secretary:

Indian Treaty Room

11:08 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning, everybody. Last night, I outlined my vision for our common future -- one in which we accept the responsibility to act boldly and wisely to confront the extraordinary challenges of our times, put people back to work doing the work America needs done, and lay a new foundation for America's growth and prosperity.

Today, I'm pleased to announce that I'm filling out my economic team with a man who shares that vision, and who will play a key role in carrying it out as my Secretary of Commerce: Governor Gary Locke.

Now, I'm sure it's not lost on anyone that we've tried this a couple of times, but I'm a big believer in keeping at something until you get it right. And Gary is the right man for this job.

Sometimes the American story can be told in the span of a single mile. More than 100 years ago, Gary's grandfather left China on a steamship bound for America. He had no family here. He spoke no English. He found work as a servant, and purpose in a dream. He raised a son -- Gary's father -- who would go on to fight in World War II, return home and open a grocery store, and later raise a family of his own.

Gary didn't learn English until he was five, but he earned the rank of Eagle Scout, worked his way through Yale University with the help of scholarships and student loans, and got a law degree. He returned to Washington state and served as a prosecutor, a state representative, chief executive of one of the most populous counties in the United States, and finally as governor -- in the State Capitol building not one mile from the home where his grandfather worked as a servant all those years ago.

So Gary knows the American Dream. He's lived it. And that's why he shares my commitment to do whatever it takes to keep it alive in our time.

Because somewhere in America, another small business owner is hard at work on the next big idea and dreaming big dreams for his grandchild. A scientist is on the cusp of the next breakthrough discovery. An entrepreneur is sketching designs for the startup that will revolutionize an industry. Our economic crisis has put these plans at risk, but it has not dimmed the dreams that inspired them.

That's why we've put a recovery plan into action that will save or create 3.5 million jobs over the next two years. That's why the vast majority of these jobs -- 90 percent -- will be created in the private sector, because we know that business, not government, is the engine of growth in this country.

It is entrepreneurship and industry that are the wellsprings of an economy that has been the greatest force of progress and prosperity in human history. It is America's workers and businesses that employ them that will determine our economic destiny. It is the task of the Department of Commerce to help create conditions in which our workers can prosper, our businesses can thrive, and our economy can grow.

That's what Gary did in Washington state, convincing businesses to set up shop and create the jobs of the 21st century -- jobs in science and technology; agriculture and energy -- jobs that pay well and can't be shipped overseas. That's what he did by establishing favorable markets abroad where Washington state's businesses could sell their products. That's what he did by unleashing powerful partnerships between state and local governments, between labor and business -- all with an eye toward prosperity and progress for all those in his state who had dreams of their own.

So Gary will be a trusted voice in my Cabinet, a tireless advocate for our economic competitiveness, and an influential ambassador for American industry who will help us do everything we can -- especially now -- to promote our industry around the world. I'm grateful he's agreed to leave one Washington for another. I'm looking forward to having him on my team as we continue the work of turning our economy around and bringing about a stronger, more prosperous future for all Americans.

Ladies and gentlemen, I want to introduce to you an outstanding public servant, somebody I'm certain will be a great Secretary of Commerce, Gary Locke. (Applause.)

GOVERNOR LOCKE: Thank you very much, Mr. President. I'm truly humbled and honored to be asked to join your economic team and to serve as Secretary of Commerce.

As I flew across the country yesterday from Seattle, I saw the cities and farmlands of America below me. And I thought of all those businesses, small and large, that are struggling -- struggling to meet payroll; struggling to provide benefits to their employees; wondering about their future and viability as companies. Most of all, I thought about all those families in those communities who are hurting and worried about their future.

Mr. President, I know you hear their concerns. The American people and I fully support you and have confidence in your bold strategies to turn our economy around, to rejuvenate the health of American businesses, to preserve and create good family wage jobs, to restore our country to an era of lasting prosperity.

You eloquently outlined your strategies last night on how America will rebuild, recover and emerge stronger than ever before. Working with the professionals at the Department of Commerce, I'm committed to making the Department an active and integral partner in advancing your economic policies and restoring the American Dream to all Americans.

Our nation's economic success is tied directly to America continuing to lead in technology and innovation, and in exporting those products, services and ideas to nations around the globe. The Department of Commerce plays a critical role in nurturing innovation, expanding global markets, protecting and managing our ocean fisheries, and fostering economic growth. The Department of Commerce can and will help create the jobs and the economic vitality our nation needs.

When I was first sworn in as governor of the great state of Washington, I told the story of how a hundred years ago, my grandfather came from China as a teenager and worked for a family as a houseboy in exchange for English lessons -- just one mile from the Governor's Mansion. It took our family 100 years to move that one mile, a journey possible only in America.

And during World War II, my father served in the United States Army as a staff sergeant and landed on the shores of Normandy. As a kid I lived in public housing, and my mom and dad worked very hard in the neighborhood grocery store that they owned.

We grew up on the values of get a good education, work hard, and take care of each other. It was a struggle, but thanks to their sacrifices, I received the best education America offered. And here I am today, proud to have the opportunity to serve all the people of our great nation.

My family's story is America's story. Our story is just one of hundreds of millions since the birth of our nation, of people coming from every part of the world in pursuit of the American Dream of freedom, hope and opportunity. In hard times, Americans have rallied together, sacrificed and even given their lives for our country, because they believe in the essential goodness and promise of America.

Americans are prepared to do the same today. They believe in your leadership, Mr. President, and want you to succeed because they want America to succeed. They want a better future for themselves and their children.

We will harness the resources and the talent of the Department of Commerce to help you fulfill your commitment to the American people to build a stronger and more prosperous nation. I embrace this opportunity to serve you and the American people.

And finally I want to thank my family -- my parents and brother and sisters and the extended Locke clan, but especially my beautiful and truly gifted and loving wife, Mona, and the joys of our lives, Emily, Dylan and Madeline. Today would not have been possible without their love, support and sacrifices. And thank you, Mr. President, for this opportunity.

THE PRESIDENT: Congratulations. You'll be great.


THE PRESIDENT: All right, thank you everybody.

END 11:17 A.M. EST
This is good news. It's been a long search to fill this post, and it looks like we're ending up with a choice that a lot of people are happy about. I'm looking forward to seeing what Gary Locke does. Like I said before, that makes three Asian American cabinet members... and they've all got their work cut out for them.

alex tse, screenwriter of watchmen

One of the most highly anticipated movies of the year is the big screen adaptation of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' landmark graphic novel Watchmen. The movie, which Hollywood has been trying to make for years, finally sees the light of the silver screen in theaters next month, thanks in part to screenwriter Alex Tse. That's right, my friends. An Asian American guy wrote the movie adaptation of the greatest graphic novel of all time.

You might be familiar with Alex Tse's previous work as screenwriter of the TV movie Sucka Free City, directed by Spike Lee. The project actually started as a pilot for a Showtime series, but the plans fell through, and it aired as a movie. If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend checking it out -- personally, I think it's some of actor Ken Leung's best work.

Arowana Films has a cool video feature on Alex, talking about how he got the highly coveted job of adapting Watchmen: Exclusive AFC!!! Watchmen Writer Alex Tse. Next month, he'll be in conversation with filmmaker Spencer Nakasako as part of the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival: From Sucker Free City to Watchmen: An Afternoon with Screenwriter Alex Tse.

I actually got to see a screening of Watchmen last week, and it's pretty awesome, very faithful adaption. As a longtime fan of the graphic novel, I think they've done the best job they could with some incredibly challenging and dense material. If you've read Watchmen, you know what I'm talking about. Personally, I'm just curious to see if someone who is completely unfamiliar with the graphic novel is going to understand it at all. Watchmen in theaters everwhere on March 6.

texas rep. tells chinese american lawyer to "go home"

Heard about this last week, an incident with some angry words exchanged between Rep. Leo Berman and Dallas lawyer Harry Joe at a panel discussion on immigration in Austin: Angry words fly between Texas legislator, lawyer after immigration discussion.

The confrontation actually happened after the panel, where Berman spoke about his proposed bill to relocate and restrict illegal immigrants to Texas "sanctuary cities," where law officers are instructed not to ask people they encounter about their immigration status. This is just the latest in a series of bills authored by Berman, aimed at illegal immigrants.

More here: Heated words fly after immigration discussion. Chinese American attorney Harry Joe, who practices immigration law, approached Berman with a piece of his mind, and the conversation quickly turned ugly. Joe apparently called Berman "despicable" and "evil," to which Berman shouted back, "Go home!" Oh. No. You. Didn't.

Yes, he did. We've all heard it before. The good old go-back-to-where-you-came-from retort, directed at an Asian American man -- from an elected official, no less. Now that didn't take long, did it? Tell us how you really feel, Leo. You mean, go home to Dallas? Or somewhere much further? When pushed, the guy reveals the xenophobia in his heart. It's as simple as that. That's racist!

And now, a number of activists and immigration rights advocates are calling for action against Berman, whose actions are "clearly unbecoming a member of the Texas Legislature": "Censure Leo" effort targets Tyler Republican. Censure is a formal reprimand in the House. It must be passed by majority vote, and does not carry any disciplinary action.

To join the movement, sign the petition, and find out multiple ways you can take action against Leo "Go Home" Berman -- contact your member of the Texas House of Representative, call Texas House Speaker Joe Straus, call Berman himself -- go here: Censure Leo.


baby opens in los angeles this friday

At long last, Baby returns to the city where it all began. After a successful festival run, Juwan Chung's indie gangster drama opens for one week this Friday, February 26 and runs through March 4 at the Downtown Independent in Los Angeles.

The movie tells the grim tale of Baby, a troubled youth who gets caught up and trapped in the world of East Los Angeles gang life. Spiraling out of control in a lifestyle of drugs, murder and street gangs, he tries to turn his life around before it's too late.

It's a gritty, low-budget film, but surprising affecting, with a compelling story and impressive performances from the likes of David Huynh, Ron Yuan, Tzi Ma and Feodor Chin. I'll admit -- I went in with fairly low expectations, and ended up being pretty impressed.

To learn more about the movie, watch the trailer, and get details on the Los Angeles theatrical run, visit the Baby website here. You can actually already see the movie on DVD, but don't you want to see it on the big screen? Besides the Kogi truck is apparently going to be there on Friday night. Baby and Kogi!

michel gondry directing green hornet

More news on the Green Hornet movie... the project just gets weirder and weirder. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Michel Gondry is negotiations to direct Columbia's big-screen treatment of the classic costumed crime-fighter: Michel Gondry steps in for 'Green Hornet.' Yeah. Weird!

Stephen Chow was the last guy who signed on to direct, but dropped out over creative differences. This would've been cool as hell, but I guess it wasn't meant to be. He's still expected to co-star as Kato, the asskicking sidekick/chauffeur. Cross your fingers.

But Gondry directing? At first I thought it was a joke. I think he's a hell of a filmmaker. Visionary, even. But he's certainly the last guy I would've dreamed of to direct Green Hornet. We're talking about the guy who made Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Science of Sleep and Be Kind Rewind. This project just took a turn for the strange... and I kind of like it.

But like I've said from the beginning, Kato better kick ass.

bobby jindal could be the guy to watch tonight

Here's another CNN article on Louisiana Governor and GOP rising star Bobby Jindal, who has got the plum gig of delivering the Republican's televised response to Barack Obama's address to Congress tonight: GOP rising star Jindal's speech a 'coming-out party'.

In a way, the speech is Jindal's "coming-out party," with the GOP putting him on a national platform and positioning him as a fresh new face among potential 2012 Republican presidential candidates. Experts think 37-year-old Jindal could help appeal to young voters. And Lord knows the GOP needs it.

UPDATE: Eh. Does anyone think Jindal really knocked it out of the park? Granted, he didn't have a lot of room work with. I think this LA Times blog sort of sums it up: We know the GOP messed up, says Jindal. We'll make it up to you. And this take from Gawker is kind of funny: Bobby Jindal Channels Kenneth the Page in GOP Response.

david choi performing at kollaboration 9

You all know how much I enjoy the music and YouTube antics of David Choi. I mean, come on, who doesn't love the YouTube song? Well, the video crooner performed this weekend at Kollaboration 9, and brought his laptop along on stage to record his performance (and feel a little bit at home in front of the live audience of 6000+ people). He has posted the video for enjoyment here. Nice work, Dave.

chinese mothers lose children in fatal car wreck

This is a tragic story of three mothers, all from the same province in China, who lost their children in a car wreck in Ohio in 2007... Now, two years later, they're struggling with American laws and language as they work to recoup the tens of thousands of dollars they borrowed to educate, and bury, their children: Chinese mothers lose children, livelihoods in fatal wreck.

On March 8, 2007, Sun "Zoe Yan, Bian "Jack" Jin and Xue "Jo" Bing -- all graduate students at Urbana University in Ohio -- were returning from a spring break shopping trip, when a reckless driver, Jason Skaggs, crashed his car at 98 mph, causing a nasty multiple vehicle wreck. The three were killed instantly.

Skaggs was found guilty of aggravated vehicular homicide. During the trial, the media uncovered a litany of driving violations committed by Skaggs, including a previous vehicular homicide and a speeding ticket he received for driving 91 mph in a 65-mph zone just weeks before the wreck.

In August, Skaggs was sentenced to the maximum 34 years in prison. This, however, does little to comfort the students' parents. They wonder how Skaggs still had a license to begin with. And now, the beloved kids that they put so much of their family's hopes in... are gone.

According to the story, Urbana University has collected thousands of dollars for the families of Xue Bing, Bian Jin and Sun Yan and will maintain a charitable fund indefinitely. Those interested in helping the families can send donations to:

c/o Jim Wilson
Office of Development
Urbana University
579 College Way
Urbana, Ohio 43078

japanese and koreans coming together in little tokyo

The Los Angeles Times has an interesting article on some of the tensions between Japanese residents and the growing number of Koreans in Little Tokyo... as well as the effort bring the two groups together: Japanese and Koreans learn to live together in harmony in L.A.'s Little Tokyo.

As Korean residents and shop owners have increased their presence in Little Tokyo, the historic heart of Southern California's Japanese American community, things haven't always been super smooth between the two groups.

But as the story reports, there have been events and gatherings in an attempt to reconcile the community, including a Korean-Japanese bilingual newsletter, a concert, and of course, karaoke nights. Because baby, nothing brings people together like karaoke.


letters to a student revolutionary, february 28 - march 1

For those of you in Los Angeles, you might want to check out this special one-weekend benefit performance of Letters to a Student Revolution by Elizabeth Wong, directed by Peter J. Kuo, and presented by addword productions, happening February 28 and March 1 at the National Center for the Preservation of Democracy in Little Tokyo.

It's a poignant and moving story about a Chinese girl and a Chinese American girl who correspond with each other as pen pals in the years leading up to the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre. First staged in 1991, this was the first play in the United States to respond to this tragic historic event. Some details:
A Play by Elizabeth Wong
Directed by Peter J. Kuo

A Special ONE WEEKEND ONLY Benefit Performance to Commemorate the 20th Anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Massacre

Poignantly moving and at times disarmingly funny, LETTERS TO A STUDENT REVOLUTIONARY traces the decade-long correspondence and search for true democracy between two pen-pals--one Chinese, the other Chinese American--which ends abruptly with the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre. First staged in 1991, this is the first play in the United Stated to respond to the tragic historical event.

Carin Chea | Julia Cho | Edward Gunawan | Ruffy Landayan
Joon Lee | Nghia Luu | Sheila Tejada | Tina Tong

Saturday, February 28th @ 8:00 PM
Sunday, March 1st @ 3:00PM* & 7:30 PM
*A panel discussion with human rights advocates & scholars will follow Sunday matinee 3:00 PM performance

At the Democracy Forum of
The National Center for the Preservation of Democracy
111 N. Central Avenue (Little Tokyo of Downtown L.A.)
Click here for maps + directions

$20 for General Admission
$15 for Students, Seniors, Group (10+), Affiliated APA and Theatre Groups* + Japanese American National Museum Members
If you receive this email, you qualify to purchase the discount tickets as an affiliated group member - please purchase the discount tickets online or at the door and mention your organization name when you pick up your tickets.

Online: www.addwordproductions.com
Email: addwordproductions@gmail.com
Phone: (310) 594-3068
They're presenting it in part to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the massacre, and portions of the proceeds will go to Amnesty International. A panel discussion with human rights advocates and scholars will follow Sunday matinee 3:00pm performance. For more information about the performance, and to purchase tickets, go to the addwords productions website here.

obama likely to name gary locke as commerce secretary

This is very cool, unexpected news... According to a White House official, President Barack Obama's latest top choice to fill the job of Commerce Secretary is none other than former Washington Governor Gary Locke: The Latest Choice for Commerce? Ex-Governor Locke. More here: Obama likely to name Locke to Commerce.

The former governor is the Obama's administration third choice for the post, after Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico dropped out because of a federal investigation into state contracting and Senator Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, withdrew his nomination citing philosophical differences with the president.

Locke made history in 1996 when he was elected the first Chinese American governor in the United States, and was widely regarded as a rising star in the Democratic party. In 2003, he was chosen to give the Democrats' response to George W. Bush's State of the Union address.

He served two terms before stepping down after the 2004 election, citing a desire to spend more time with his family. So it's been a while since we've heard from him in a major government role, but I think this will be a welcome return.

At the moment, he's considered the "likely" nominee, pending final vetting checks. You know the President's people are checking the hell out of him, because you certainly don't want a third guy unexpectedly dropping out for whatever reason. He confirmed, Locke will be one of three Asian Americans in Obama's cabinet. Excuse me, but how cool is that?

secret identities: "9066" preview

I've already written quite a bit about Secret Identities, the Asian American superhero comic book anthology that will be out this spring. The project brings together some of the comic book industry's most prominent creators for a collection of original Asian American superhero stories.

To hype up the release, they've put together a weekly series of video previews highlighting the some of anthology's stories. They've already produced a promo trailer, and released the first video, "IN THE BEGINNING," which is sort of the "origin story" of the project.

This week, it's "9066,", written by Jonathan Tseui and drawn by Jerry Ma. The story centers around a Japanese American superhero who is sent into an internment camp during World War II after President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs Executive Order 9066 in response to the attack on Pearl Harbor.

To learn more about Secret Identities, the Asian American superhero anthology, go to the website here. The book will be available in stores in April. You can pre-order it now on Amazon.com.

the trouble with romance opens in new york this friday

Okay, I must remind you that Gene Rhee's feature film The Trouble with Romance opens this Friday, February 27 at the Quad Cinema in New York. This is a low-budget independent film is getting limited distribution from Warner Brothers, so this is a good opportunity to see it on the big screen.

The film is a romantic comedy featuring a quartet of vignettes about the challenges and heartaches that come with falling and staying in love. It stars Roger Fan, Emily Liu, Sheetal Sheth, David Eigenberg, Jennifer Siebel and others. It's heartfelt, sometimes a little twisted, sometimes crude and gut-busting funny.

The film has also been getting some attention because of its stars is none other than San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom's wife, Jennifer Siebel Newsom: The Nearly Naked 'Other' First Lady!

And here's a very gross, funny-ass clip of Roger Fan's "dump" scene from my favorite segment in the movie: The Trouble With Romance Uncensored Clip. Beware the uncensored sight of Roger's naked ass. I told you, there's a little something for everybody. When in doubt, go with the potty humor.

So check it out! Do it for my buddy Gene. Do it to support independent Asian American filmmakers. Spread the word and bring a friend. To learn more about the film, check out the MySpace page here and the Facebook page here. Watch the trailer here.

china mine explosion kills 74

Good Lord. In China, at least 74 are dead after a mine explosion in the city of Gujiao in the Shanxi Province. As of yesterday evening, dozens were still trapped in the mine in the deadliest coal-mining accident in the country in more than a year: At Least 74 Miners Are Killed in China Blast.

At the time of the explosion, 436 people were working underground. Rescue workers told Xinhua, the state news agency, that 114 miners had been hospitalized, with six listed in critical condition. The injured miners had carbon monoxide poisoning. More here: China mine blast kills 74, traps dozens


81st academy awards tonight

The 81st Annual Academy Awards, Hollywood's biggest night, is tonight. Like everyone else, I am predicting a really big evening for Slumdog Millionaire. It won't be an Oscar sweep -- I don't think it'll win for the song and sound categories. But who knows? In honor of Slumdog, here's a video clip composer A.R. Rahman performing a few nights ago on The Tonight Show.

I'm also rooting for Steven Okazaki's The Conscience of Nhem En, nominated for Best Documentary Short. He has previously been nominated three times, and won for Days of Waiting in 1991. Here's a funny NPR feature I heard the other day by Peggy Orenstein, who is married to Okazaki and attending the ceremony tonight: Who Are You Wearing To The Oscars? Who Cares?

UPDATE: And Slumdog Millionaire wins Best Picture. Okay, I was totally wrong about the Best Song and Sound Mixing -- Slumdog took both categories. No win for Steven Okazaki's The Conscience of Nhem En though.

Suprise win for Kunio Kato's La Maison en Petits Cubes, which won Best Animated Short. I thought for sure it would go to the Pixar short. He accepted the award with many many "thank yous" and "domo airgato, Mr. Roboto."

And another big surprise win for Yojiro Takita's Departures (a film I had never even heard of before they announced the nominations), which won for Best Foreign Language Film -- quite an upset over the highly favored Waltz with Bashir: Japan's 'Departures' wins Oscar in upset. I'm going to have to check it out now.


angry reader of the week: junichi semitsu

Once again, it's time to meet the Angry Reader of the Week, spotlighting you, the very special readers of this website. Over the years, I've been able to connect with a lot of cool folks, and this is a way of showing some appreciation and attention to the people who help make this blog what it is. This week's reader is law professor/blogger/father-at-any-moment-now Junichi Semitsu, who co-writes at one of my favorite blogs, Poplicks, and did not at all influence me with this recent beef-y diatribe.

congressman anh cao faces recall petition

Rep. Anh "Joseph" Cao, the Vietnamese American Republican representing an overwhelmingly black and Democratic New Orleans congressional district, is the subject of a recall petition effort by critics who are upset over his vote against President Barack Obama's economic stimulus package: Republican faces recall effort for stimulus vote.

Cao, the first Vietnamese American elected to Congress, stunned pretty much everyone last December with this surprise win in the 2nd Congressional District. Now, he's facing some serious criticism from a group of vocal community leaders who want him out: Group Trying To Recall New Congressman.

There's some question over whether a sitting congressman can legally be recalled by voter petition. There's apparently no provision for it in the U.S. Constitution.

Either way, recalling an elected official in Louisiana is pretty difficult and requires petition signatures from more than 101,000 district voters in 180 days to force an election. But the recall group, led by two ministers, says it has already gathered 12,000 signatures. More here: Recall Vs Louisiana Cong. Cao Has Good Start, Faces Hurdle.

new york post cartoon compares obama to killed chimpanzee?

This isn't necessarily Asian American-related, but it's certainly what everyone's talking about this week, raising a lot of familiar questions about political cartoons and racist imagery... This week, the New York Post ran a cartoon comparing President Barack Obama to a violent chimpanzee gunned down by police, drawing outrage from those who say it invokes racist stereotypes of blacks as monkeys: NY Post cartoon of dead chimpanzee stirs outrage.

If you haven't seen it, the cartoon shows two police officers, one with a smoking gun, standing over the body of a bullet-riddled chimp. The caption reads: "They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill." The illustration, of course, refers to the mad chimpanzee that was killed b police earlier this week in Connecticut, after it turned violent and mauled a friend of its owner.

The cartoon has set off an intense response and reaction against the Post. Many are calling the it racist and say it trivializes the violent tragedy that left a woman disfigured and a chimpanzee killed. Other say the cartoon suggests that President Obama should be assassinated. Whatever the case, the cartoon is offensive, disturbing and in serious bad taste. Someone at the paper had a serious lapse in judgment, on multiple levels. But here's the Post's response: THAT CARTOON.

100 days, 100 songs, 100 locations, 100 dances

I've been seeing this one all over the place... A guy named Ely Kim thought it would be a great idea to make a video of him doing 100 dances to 100 songs in 100 places over 100 days. I know what you're thinking -- oh great, another spazzy-ass dance video. I was kind of thinking that too, but at around dance number 11, I was hooked. The guy's hilarious. Watch the video here. And of course, the hundredth day ends with...

veterans campaign to keep "japs surrender" headline

This is definitely an example of some Americans refusing to let go of old school racist words... At a VA hospital in Indiana, framed newspapers featuring significant headlines from World War II decorate the walls. However, one of the newspapers in particular -- the front page from an August 1945 Indianapolis Times -- has been the source of controversy: Word from World War sparks a war of words. The headline: "JAPS SURRENDER."

The newspaper was removed when an employee complained the headline was offensive. This move, in turn, offended a group of retired Marines who called the removal "whitewashing history." Really? Without this particular wall decoration hanging there, is anyone really going to forget that Japan surrendered to the United States in World War II?

The offended veterans have apparently started a letter-writing campaign among veterans nationwide. Is that really necessary? It's definitely a generational issue. I guess for someone like me, I don't understand the idea of wanting so badly to hold on to racist language, even if it captures a particular moment in time.

Using slurs like "Jap," like "gook" (hey, John McCain), is a way of dehumanizing the enemy -- the first rule of war. But the war is over. It was over a long time ago. I just have a hard time seeing what purpose such a headline serves hanging in the halls of the hospital today. (Thanks, Koji.)

even john yoo's colleagues are trying to get him fired

How much do people hate Boalt law professor John Yoo, and all that he stands for? His own Berkeley colleague Brad DeLong has written a compelling letter condemning Yoo and outlining reasons why UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgenau should fire him: I Never Thought I Would Grow Up to Be the Kind of Crank Who Wrote Letters to the Chancellor Trying to Get My Colleagues Fired...

Yoo is best known for being a key contributor to the PATRIOT Act and wrote memos -- aka the "Torture Memos" -- in which he advocated the possible legality of torture and that enemy combatants could be denied protection under the Geneva Conventions. He also has a prominent place on my list of People Who Suck.

japanese golf sensation ryo ishikawa makes pga debut

Watch your back, Tiger. The new guy to watch on the pro golf scene is apparently 17-year-old Ryo Ishikawa of Japan: Japanese teen causing quite a sensation. The teenager made his PGA Tour debut yesterday at the Riviera Country Club in the Northern Trust Open: Nerves get the better of Ishikawa on PGA Tour debut.

In 2007, at age 15, Ishikawa became the youngest winner ever of a men's regular tournament on the Japan Golf Tour by winning the Munsingwear Open KSB Cup. I guess he's here now to conquer America, already garnering comparisons to Tiger Woods and of course, fellow teen Michelle Wie: Wie's a cautionary tale for Japanese teen Ishikawa.

some people have a lot of time on their hands

Straight outta Hong Kong... Simon sends me this goofy video he produced. For folks who need some help making sense of the current financial crisis, here's a silly take on the situation, Street Fighter-style. Wall Street Fighter, that is. In terms of understand the economic crisis, it's actually not helpful at all. But you might find it kind of funny.

chinatown residents sue landlords for harassment

This week in Manhattan, a group of Chinatown resident filed a lawsuit against a New York private equity group, under a recently passed law that allows tenants to sue landlords in Housing Court for using threats and other forms of harassment to force them out: Harassment Is Focus of Chinatown Tenants' Suit.

According to the complaint, filed by residents at 55 and 61 Delancey Streeets, harassment by the landlord includes disrupting three tenant meetings by calling the police; rejecting rent payments; frivolously pursuing legal eviction proceedings; suspending essential services for a prolonged period of time; and ordering tenants to remove Chinese cultural symbols and decorations from their doors.

The list of complaints goes on and on. Judging from the article, these are property owners engaging in some shady practices against the Chinatown tenants -- unfortunately, a common occurrence. Common enough, in fact, that the residents aren't taking it anymore, and they're fighting back. Stand up to shady landlords!

san jose post office named in honor of gordon n. chan

This week in San Jose, a post office building was named in honor of Gordon N. Chan, a respected community leader and agricultural pioneer who died in 2001: North San Jose post office named in honor of Gordon N. Chan.

Chan, the first Chinese-American president of the Santa Clara Farm Bureau, was a well-known mentor to many Asian-American community activists and politicians. Here's Congressman Mike Honda's statement on the naming: Rep. Michael Honda Celebrates Chinese-American Leader in Naming of Gordan Chan Post Office, San Jose's First

Honda, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, and about 200 city officials and community group leaders attended the ceremony on Wednesday morning in front of the post office. A plaque was installed below the U.S. Post Office insignia, dedicating the building as the Gordon N. Chan Post Office.


ben alisuag performs at the naacp image awards

Check out this cool video clip of Filipino American spoken word artist Ben Alisuag, who was chosen to perform last week at the NAACP Image Awards in honor of hip hop luminary Russell Simmons, who received the Vanguard Award. The Def Poetry starts at about the 3:00 mark of the clip. Nice work, Ben.

apa for progress' glen s. fukushima campaign fellowship

My friends at APA for Progress inform me that they've just launched a really cool new opportunity for folks interested in getting involved in politics: the Glen S. Fukushima Campaign Fellowship. The selected fellow will be placed with Dr. Judy Chu's campaign for California's 32nd Congressional District.

The campaign fellowship is made possible through a donation by Glen. S. Fukushima, a former Deputy Assistant United States Trade Representative for Japan and China at the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), Executive Office of the President.

They're now accepting applications, but you have to act fast -- the deadline for this year's application is Saturday, February 28, 2009 at 11:00pm PST. Due to the nature of this special election, the selected fellow will be expected to start as soon as possible. To apply, download the application here.

what I've been listening to: tim be told's getting by

A bunch of folks have been telling me about Tim Be Told for the better part of a year, but for some reason, I only recently got around to hearing their album Getting Byicon, and man, I'm really enjoying it. It's solid songwriting, appealing vocals and just a really hopeful, soulful sound.

Hailing from Charlottesville, Tim Ouyang, Luan Nguyen, Andrew Chae, Jim Barredo, and Parker Stanley formed Tim Be Told a few years back and have been gaining a considerable following in Virginia and beyond with their infectious pop/rock/gospel sound. My only regret is not getting to know their music sooner.

However, according to their touring schedule, it looks like I'll be able to catch them performing in a few weeks at ECAASU. Looking forward to it. Learn more about Tim Be Told, and hear some of music on their MySpace page. Also check out their YouTube channel. One of my favorite of their songs is "Ordinary".

the world is going to explode -- which race do you save?

What are they trying to teach the kids in Canada? In New Brunswick, the education minister has ordered the cancellation of a fourth grade school assignment that asked children which lives they would save if the world were about to end, and they had to choose among different ethnic groups: N.B. education minister orders end to race-based Grade 4 assignment.

The assignment, given to Grade 4 students at Ecole Mont-Carmel in Ste-Marie-de-Kent, was based on the notion that the planet would explode. The students had three spaces in a rocket ship and they had to decide which person they would save among the following: an Acadian francophone, a Chinese person, a black African, an English person and an aboriginal person.

Before the minister made his ruling, the principal of the school defended the assignment, saying it actually intended to show the students how to be respectful to all groups. Right. Except for all the groups the students chose to leave behind in a global explosion.

You've got to be kidding me. This is what grade 4 students are learning these days? Who the hell dreamed up this crazy racist assignment? It's like some kind of eerie early recruitment tool for white supremacist groups. Give the right answer, and they'll track you down for future membership. Scary.

ksw's do it yourself music video night

Aw yeah, Bay Area. Check it out. A few months back, Kearny Street Workshop teamed up independent APA musicians with aspiring filmmakers for the 2nd annual Do It Yourself Music Video Premiere and Online Contest. The result: brand-new music videos created to compete for a chance to screen at the San Francisco International Film Festival.

It's the best of D-I-Y filmmaking -- community filmmakers, musicians and volunteers coming together to create work with little or no budget. Now it's time to unveil them. All the videos will premiere at an event hosted by Locus at Kearny Street Workshop this Friday, February 20 at Root Division in San Francisco: Do It Yourself Music Video Night.

The videos will also premiere online on Friday, and viewers will be given the opportunity to vote for their favorite video and choose who will win a spot in the 2009 San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival's Music Video Asia program next month.

"koreatown rapist" matches dna collected from victims

I remember this case from a few years back, the "Koreatown Rapist"... Last week, a Los Angeles Police Department criminalist testified that the genetic code of Tyreese Reed, a man accused of attacking and raping seven women in Beverly Hills, Glendale and Koreatown, matched DNA collected from two women: DNA linked to accused rapist.

According to authorities, a saliva swab sample collected from the inside of Reed's mouth matched hair, mouth and lip specimens taken from several alleged victims that the Police Department tested.

Reed was arrested July 2005 and charged with 18 felony counts, which include three counts of forcible rape, three counts of forcible oral copulation, three counts of attempted oral copulation, five counts of second-degree robbery, two counts of burglary, one count of sodomy by use of force and one count of kidnapping.

He is charged with attacking seven Asian women aged 17 to 55 between August 26, 2004, and June 15, 2005, but Los Angeles police believe he is actually responsible for 13 sexual assaults and robberies.

According to the district attorney's office, if he's convicted, Reed faces a maximum of 150 years in state prison. Indeed, this guy needs to rot in a locked cage for a very, very long time. Rot, you sicko! Here's the news story from a few years back on Reed's arrest: Man Posing as Parole Officer Held in Series of Koreatown Rapes.


racist chinaman caricature on true religion shirt

Oh, you like that? This wonderful little racist caricature comes in the form of -- where else? -- a t-shirt, courtesy of True Religion. The perfect item to make your playful hipster, casually racist fashion statement. Here's a closer look:

If I'm not mistaken, that's a buck-toothed Chinaman dude, complete with pointy hat, riding... uh, what is that? A motorcycle? A rickshaw? Throw in some "wonton" font to top it all off. That's racist!. But perhaps the most offensive thing about this shirt? It costs $59.00!

more casting calls for the last airbender

An update the on the casting of the live-action Last Airbender movie, which, when last we checked, featured an all white principal cast, except for one South Asian guy who happens to be playing the primary villain. Here are two recent casting notices, looking for different types:

We are casting extras and day players local to Philadelphia for the feature film ,"The Last Airbender", directed, written, and produced by M. NIght Shyamalan. Please spread the news to members of your organization!

Based on the hugely successful Nickelodeon animated TV series, the PARAMOUNT PICTURES & NICKELODEON MOVIES live action film is set in a world where human civilization is divided into four nations: Air, Water, Earth, and Fire. The film's hero, the reluctant young Aang, is the "Last Airbender." Aided by a protective teenage Waterbender named Katara, and her bull-headed brother, Sokka, Aang proceeds on a perilous journey to restore balance to their war-torn world.

Currently, we are looking for:

(Boys & Girls 6-16 Yrs. Old and Men & Women 18-65 Yrs. Old) of the following ethnic backgrounds:

Full Korean Descent
Full Chinese Descent
Full Taiwanese Descent
Full Vietnamese Descent
Full Mongolian Descent

If interested, send email us at: lastairbendercasting@gmail.com

Please include your ethnic background (in the subject line), contact information, and a photo.

Thank you!
The Last Airbender Casting
Information Hotline: (215) 574-7878
So if you're of full (what -- no biracial actors allowed?) Korean, Chinese, Taiwanese, Vietnamese and Mongolian descent, you can be a background extra populating the magical world of The Last Airbender... but you can't play Aang, Katara, Sokka or any of the other main characters. How ridiculous is going to be to see these tan white kids with funny haircuts hanging around their so-called kingdom while everyone else around them is Asian?

But wait! According to Heery Casting, there are, in fact, principal roles for "Chinese and Korean actors"... specifically, men ages 30-60. So they're obviously looking for Asian men -- but for what kind of roles? Hre are the details:
The Last Airbender casting

We are looking for Chinese and Korean actors for principal roles in M. Night Shyamalan's new film, "The Last Airbender."

"The Last Airbender" is a new Paramount Pictures production, written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan. The film is an epic adventure story based on the Nickelodeon TV series, "Avatar: The Last Airbender."

Needed are Chinese and Korean actors- MEN ONLY, age 30-60, SAG or non-Union.
All roles are paid under a SAG contract.

Shooting begins in Philadelphia in April 2009.

If interested please e-mail a picture/resume to: airbendercasting@gmail.com

NO Phone calls please.
Note, it does say these are principal roles. I'm still not very familiar with all the characters of the animated series, but I'm told by people in the know that the only principal male adult characters in Avatar: The Last Airbender are also antagonist roles, like the villainous Admiral Zhao.

That's right, baby. Asian bad guys! It really wouldn't be a complete Hollywood Bastardization of Asian Culture without them, right? Does this mean we're going to see a horde of villainous Asian men chasing after a bunch of pretty white kids dressed as Asians? Awesome! I can't wait.

a lack of apa diversity in u.s. district court

This is a great opinion piece by Celia W. Lee and Ken Kawaichi in the San Francisco Chronicle on the surprising and severe lack of Asian Pacific American diversity in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, considering the Bay Area's unique history of significant legal cases involving Asian Pacific Americans: An indefensible lack of diversity on the U.S. District Court.

In Northern California's state courts, there are 27 Superior Court judges, two commissioners, a justice on the Court of Appeal and two justices on the Supreme Court... but no APA judges on the federal bench.

And even with that significant number in the state courts, it still hasn't achieved parity with the APA population, which makes up 33 percent of San Francisco's population and about 20 percent of the Bay Area population.

So what's up with that? As the piece points out, the remedy is obvious: appoint a qualified Asian Pacific American judge to the U.S. District Court in the Northern District. After all, this is the district that saw Yick Wo vs. Hopkins, Wong Kim Ark vs. the United States, Korematsu vs. United States, and Lau vs. Nichols.

Also, the piece urges the appointment of an APA judge to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco, the federal appellate court for California. No active Asian American judge sits on the Ninth Circuit. In fact, there are no active Asian American judges in any Circuit Courts of Appeals in the United States.

racist caricature on tacos orientalex sign

No, this is not the sign for the Kogi truck. The above sign was spotted by a keen-eyed reader named Wilfredo during a recent vacation in Acapulco. For the record, I've heard that the tacos at this joint are actually pretty good. Too bad they have to use racist caricatures in their advertising.

It kind of reminds me of a few other photos we've seen of similar restaurant signs, like this one from Argentina, and this one, also from Mexico.

Apparently, this sort of racist signage is fairly common in parts of Mexico and South America. I guess some folks just haven't come around to realizing this kind of imagery is not cool. Hell, there are people in the United States who still haven't realized this yet.

2009 south asian summit

The people of South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) want you to mark your calendars for the 2009 South Asian Summit, happening April 24-26 in Washington D.C. This is going to be a great opportunity for advocates, students and concerned citizens to learn about emerging issues affecting the South Asian American community through workshops, discussions and networking.

The South Asian Summit is a national convening that brings together South Asian organizational leaders, community members, advocates, professionals, non-profit staff members, lawyers, and students from around the country. At the Summit, you'll engage with policymakers; learn about issues of concern in the South Asian community; and strategize around best practices and future collaborations.

Space is limited and registration is based on a first-come first-served basis. To register for the Summit, go hre. For more information about the 2009 South Asian Summit, go to the SAALT website here.

teen found dead after leaving party

Don't want it to be downer day with news of dead students... but this is another baffling death. Over the weekend, the body of 16-year-old Elizabeth Mun was found in an icy pond in Andover, Massachusetts: Autopsy today for teen who left party.

She had apparently been with friends at an all-night party, but abruptly left the party on foot around 5:00am on Saturday. Police later discovered her dead, lying facedown in a partially frozen brook about 200 yards from the house.

Officials declined to comment on whether alcohol or drugs played a role in her death. An autopsy was performed yesterday, but haven't yet released the results. Questions remain over why Elizabeth wandered away from the party, and why she went into the cold wearing only shorts and a jacket.

What authorities have indicated though, is that there weren't any adults present at the home during the party: No parents at party before death. With a promising young student dead, someone is going to have to answer for that: Cops mull charges in teen's death.

aaron yoo in complex magazine

There's a feature on actor Aaron Yoo in this month's Complex magazine: Aaron Yoo: Discovering Yoo. You've seen him in the Hollywood hits Disturbia, 21, Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist, and now, Friday the 13th. Lots of photos of him here looking cool in various outfits. Wow, an Asian dude in a real fashion spread?

ut student falls out of cab and dies

In Kyle, Texas, police are investigating the death UT student Jeffrey Weng, who died after he jumped or fell out of a cab traveling along I-35 early Saturday morning: UT Student Dies After Fall Out of Cab. Yeah, the headline doesn't make any sense to me either. What the hell happened?

According to friends, Weng and a Hispanic man got into a taxi early Saturday morning in downtown Austin. At some point, while the cab was traveling at least 60 mph, Weng apparently jumped out of the backseat of the car. He suffered serious trauma to his head and died.

Police are trying to find the second passenger to figure out what happened, and haven't ruled out foul play. Damn right -- because it sounds extremely fishy. Nothing about this story makes any sense. More here: Questions linger over Plano grad's taxi ride death.

Meanwhile, his friends and family are grieving over the tragedy. Weng was a junior at the UT School of Music and was considered a well-liked, accomplished percussionist. I'm told that he eventually wanted to establish a foundation for underprivileged kids to play music. There's a Facebook page memorializing Jeffrey here: Jeffrey Weng, You may be Lost, but You will Never be Forgotten.

anoop desai, the next american idol?

I haven't really been following the current season of American Idol, but one contestant I have been able to catch a few clips of is 21-year-old Anoop Desai of Chapel Hill, North Carolina who has made the Top 36 in the competition. People started emailing me about this guy as soon as they aired his Kansas City audition. He was part of the first twelve who sang last night. Will America vote for him?

The guy has definitely got the chops and the appeal to be a fan favorite. The guy's got soul! Listen to some audio of his audition here. And watch this fun video of Anoop singing "Kiss Kiss" with the Clef Hangers, his a cappella group at UNC: UNC Clef Hangers - Kiss Kiss. His fate will be revealed on the results show tonight.


two videos of the jabbawockeez

Yes, that's former America's Best Dance Crew winners JabbaWockeeZ you've been seeing here and there... The masked dancers backed Shaquille O'Neal's intro at the NBA All-Star Game. Um, that's Shaq in the middle, if you couldn't tell, trying out some dance movies... looking kind of ridiculous if you ask me: Shaq Dancing With Jabbawockeez - 2009 NBA All-Star Game Intros. Don't quit your day job, Shaq.

You can also see the JabbaWockeez in this extremely silly Monty Python and the Holy Grail-esque Gatorade commercial: Mission G | The Quest For G - Jabbawockeez. Well, uh... at least they're getting paid.

angry archive