28... 29... 30!

And there you go. That concludes the month of May, and our very special list of the 30 Most of Influential Asian Americans Under 30. It was quite an undertaking, and to be honest, if I knew how difficult it was going to be to put this list together, I might not have done it. But overall, I'm fairly satisfied with how it turned out, and it was a nice little exercise to survey all the young people in the Asian American who are doing cool things. To recap, they are:Thank you to everyone who submitted nominations. Unfortunately, 30 is 30, and I couldn't fit everyone, even though there were many others I really wanted to include on the list. That said, here are some honorable mentions:...just to name a few. Like I said, this was a tricky, difficult process. But I was glad to do it, and from what I heard, most people seemed to dig it. Who knows? Maybe we'll do it again next year. After all, that's the cool thing -- there's never a short supply of young, awesome, influential Asian Americans.

30 under 30: far east movement

Kev Nish, Prohgress, J-Splif and DJ Virman
Ages: 27
Far*East Movement

Why they're influential: Because they're gettin' your ass on the dance floor. Already established icons in the Asian American hip hop scene, Far*East Movement -- or simply "FM" -- are now turning heads and bringing fresh music to the masses, with radio-friendly tracks like "You've Got a Frend," "Lowridin" and "Girls On The Dance Floor" off their sophomore album Animal.

Formed in 2003 by friends and emcees Kev Nish (Kevin Nishimura), Prohgress (James Roh), and J-Splif (Jae Choung), the group rapidly gained recognition in the Los Angeles underground for their energetic live shows and strong internet presence. I first saw these guys at a tiny record store show back in 2004, and instantly became a fan. These guys were stars.

Partnered with mastermind manager Carl Choi and Catch Music Group, FM has been working hard and making major moves, each step taking them to bigger and badder things. They were featured in the soundtrack for The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, have performed in shows around the world and are currently getting national major radio play.

Yes, America. You're invited to this Asian party. I can't get enough of "Girls On The Dance Floor." Sure, the song is ridiculous -- like the radio really needs another ditty about girls, drinks and dancing. But the track, powered by the Grammy-nominated Stereotypes, is utterly infectious. I dare you to resist the urge to bob your head to that kickass beat.

Did I also mention that they're just cool, fun guys? Through all their success thus far, they've held it down and represented, maintaining a strong connection to their fans and community. I consider them friends, and it's great to see where their talent (and a lot of hustle) has taken them. Who knows what moves they'll making next? Crank up the radio to find out.

See the rest of the 30 Most Influential Asian Americans Under 30 here.


30 under 30: diana nguyen

Diana Nguyen
Age: 27

Why she's influential: Because she writes sharp, clever commentary on racism, sexism and stereotypes... and makes you laugh while doing it. Diana Nguyen is one half of the DISGRASIAN duo, a pair of asskickers in the Asian American blogosphere. To tell you about Diana, I'm handing over the rest of this post to her partner in crime, the awesome (also-influential) Jen Wang:

Let's be very clear about one thing: the only reason I didn't make this list is because I wasn't able to doctor my birth certificate in time the way those adorable little Chinese gymnasts did theirs before the Olympics. But if I can't be on this, there's no one I'd rather see on it more than my partner-in-crime, Diana. (And I mean that...I've already turned the other 29 people's pictures into dartboards.) Because DISGRASIAN wouldn't exist without her. Literally. She invented the word years before we started the blog, to describe a co-worker who wore flip-flops with socks to work, slurped instant noodles at her desk every day at lunch, and committed what can only be described as a cardinal sin in Diana's holy book--the poor girl lacked charisma.

DISGRASIAN also wouldn't exist without Diana because, as we've always said from the beginning, it's a blog that, at its irreverent-and-often-bitchy heart, is an ongoing conversation between two people. I think if we'd set out to write an "Asian-American blog" or a "political blog" or a "feminist blog" or even a blog that we thought people would actually read, we might have gotten overwhelmed and scared and failed miserably, disappointing our Hardass Asian Parents yet again--after we explained to them what a blog was in the first place, that is.

And if I had to carry on this conversation alone, it would be far more brooding and dark (a wonderful byproduct of being over the age of 30, just so you know). But Diana brings the light. If I had to cast us as Beatles, she'd be Paul, writing songs that people belt out joyfully at bars, locked arm-in-arm with strangers, and I'd be John, writing songs designed to make people weep, which probably goes a long way toward explaining why I adore Yoko and Diana simply can't stomach her. But when, on a regular basis, you're writing about racism, sexism, stereotypes, and things that suck in the world, you can't cry all the time, it's too exhausting. Humor is sometimes the only thing that sustains you. And no one has made me laugh more in the last two-and-a-half years--since we've been doing DISGRASIAN--than Diana. I'm sure many of our readers feel the exact same way.

See the rest of the 30 Most Influential Asian Americans Under 30 here.


30 under 30: alexander wang

Alexander Wang
Age: 25
Fashion Designer

Why he's influential: Because he's a fashion prodigy. No designer this young should possess this much talent, or a career that has accomplished so much in such a short span of time. But Alexander Wang has done it, basically bringing a hotness that has blown the lid off the fashion industry. So I'm told.

I'm going to take the lazy route now and just post Alexander Wang's official bio in lieu of a proper entry. Because it's been a long week, and to be honest, when it comes to serious conversations about fashion, I'm not going to pretend I know what I'm talking about. That said, it's pretty clear this guy knows what he's doing:

"Anyone can get all dressed up and glamorous, but it is how people dress in their off days, that are the most intriguing. It's during these in between, wayward days when a person's tru style emerges from their everyday life, forming the basis of Alexander Wang's collection where clean, classic, luxurious and refined silhouettes are introduced to an urban street provocative ideal. Like the collection itself, the girls he dresses stand out, but not in the obvious ways. More like the black sheep in a crowd -- inspiring, surprising and slightly mysterious.

The directive in Alex's vision is upholding your own individuality, and breaking the conventional idea of a predictable uniform. A tee shirt and jeans can be just as sexy and stylish as an evening gown. The ways in which his clothes are unabashedly styled and worn are as imperative to him as the clothes themselves. Alex's love for contrasts is reflected throughout the collection with juxtaposing notes of street and luxe, sexy versus androgyny, and where vagabond meets a street-smart modernist.

As a Native Californian, Alex was born and raised in San Francisco and has a Chinese American family heritage. At the age of 18, he moved to New York City where he attended Parsons Design School and partook in a variety of internships. By his sophomore year, Alex was already designing the first collection of his label Alexander Wang, which was predominantly knits. He launched his full women's collection in 2007, selling internationally to over 200 boutique and retail stores, and a full accessories collection followed in 2008.

Now at 25, Alex resides in New York City's Lower East Side, where there is never a shortage of inspiration in music, life, reality and culture. In 2008, Alexander Wang received top honors as the recipient of the Vogue/CFDA Fund; and in 2009, he was recognized by his peers with his second nomination for the CFDA Swarovski Womens Wear Designer of the Year Award."

See the rest of the 30 Most Influential Asian Americans Under 30 here.

slant 9: bold asian american images

This is for all you film fans in Houston... Slant is back! This weekend, Aurora Picture Show presents the Ninth Annual Slant: Bold Asian American Images festival, highlighting the latest in emerging films from Asian American filmmakers. It's happening this Saturday, May 30, 7:00 pm at the Glasell School of Art. The basic info:
Slant Film Festival

Screening: 7 p.m., Saturday, May 30

Location for the event: Freed Auditorium, Glassell School of Art, 5101 Montrose.

Tickets to the Slant screening are $6 for non- members and free for Aurora Picture Show members. Tickets must be purchased in advance at www.aurorapictureshow.org. There will be no door sales for this event. Aurora members can RSVP in advance by calling 713-868-2101. For more information, visit www.aurorapictureshow.org.
Curated by Hyphen's Melissa Hung, Slant is a showcase of short films that "combats tired stereotypes of Asian Americans with quirky comedies, compelling visions, and fresh perspectives on the Asian American experience." The full list of films includes:

Girl with a Walkman by Melina Leon
Five Fingers by Kevin Barker
Beijing Haze by J.P. Chan
The Postcard by Josh Kim
One Night in LA by Jon Maxwell & Ray Huang
Survivors by Soham Mehta
Alley of Hidden Dangers! by Tim Tsai
Waiting for a Train: The Toshio Hirano Story by Oscar Bucher
The Pain with Being Thirsty by David Yun
Machine with Wishbone by Randall Okita
The Others by Aram Siu Wai Collier

As someone who watches a lot of short films, I can attest that this a pretty solid program. My favorite in the bunch is probably Waiting for a Train: The Toshio Hirano Story, a documentary about a Japanese musician and his lifelong love of bluegrass. For more information about Slant, visit the Aurora Picture Show website here.

reward offered in arcadia murder

In Arcadia, California, authorities are offering a $20,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the murder of Mr. Jason Wei, owner of the Osaka Ya Sushi Restaurant, in November 2007: $20K Reward Offered In Arcadia Chef Murder.

Mr. Wei was shot and killed by an armed robber who entered through rear door of the restaurant. The incident was captured on surveillance video; however, none of the leads has produced a suspect and the case has been cold ever since.

Anyone with information about the crime or whereabouts of the gunman is asked to call the Arcadia Police Department at 1-(626)-574-5160 or the anonymous We Tip Hotline at 1-800-78 CRIME.

asian rock fest 2009

Hey, Bay Area friends, looking for something to do this weekend? The annual Asian Rock Fest comes to San Francisco. Founded in New York City in 2004, the concert has been bringing together established Asian American music acts from all over the U.S. This year's lineup includes Burning Tree Project, Johnny Hi-Fi, Festizio and United High.

It's all going down this Saturday, May 30 at Slim's in San Francisco. Doors open at 7:00pm. Get your tickets now and automatically enter to win an iPod shuffle and other cool prizes. Celebrate APA Heritage Month, make your plans and rock to this. For more information about the event, go here.

the world's tallest basketball player

Ever wonder what happened to Sun Mingming? Recently caught an update on Yahoo's front page... A couple of years ago, the 7-foot-9 Chinese center was being looked at as a possible prospect for the NBA. He would've been the tallest player in the league's history -- even taller than 7-foot-6 Yao Ming (the current tallest) -- but it didn't work out.

These days, he's still playing, having completed the most successful season of his pro carer and helping the Hamamatsu Phoenix to a first-place finish in the Eastern Conference of Japan's professional league: China's Sun shining in Japanese basketball league.

Damn, that is one tall dude. Oh, and let's not forget Sun Mingming's towering appearance in Rush Hour 3. No, wait. On second thought, let's forget that. And anything else having to do with the Rush Hour movies...

families of euna lee and laura ling going public

Laura Ling and Euna Lee, the American journalists who have been detained by the North Korean government since March 17, will stand trial next week, on June 4th. Up to now, their families have been relatively quiet due to the extreme sensitivity of the situation. But given the trial coming up, and the current nuclear standoff, they're now speaking out. Here's a letter from Laura's sister Lisa, sent over Facebook:
Hi everyone, it's Lisa Ling. Firstly, our families are deeply grateful
for your support and efforts to try to secure the release of Laura and
Euna. To say that this has been stressful would be to grossly
understate how hard this has been. Our families have been very quiet
because of the extreme sensitivity of the situation, but given the
fact that our girls are in the midst of a global nuclear stand-off, we
cannot wait any longer.

We have to speak out!

Our families will be on the Today Show on NBC in the 7AM block on
Monday morning --3 days before the June 4 trial (taking the time
differnce in consdieration). We will also be on the Larry King show on
CNN Monday night as well. Please help us urge both our government and
North Korea's to resolve this humanitarian issue. Help us stand up for
truth and two girls who just wanted to tell the world a story.

My deepest and most sincere thanks,
Their families will be appearing on various news shows to bring attention and draw support to Euna and Laura's plight. That's this Monday, June 1, on NBC's Today Show (7:00am block) and CNN's Larry King (9:00pm EST, 6:00pm PST). There will also be vigils held all around the country on June 3:
June 3rd in the States is June 4th in North Korea, the day the trial starts.


Washington, D.C.
VIGIL Organizers: Asia Liu, Max Neubauer, Wesley Della Volla, Daniel Beckmann, Joseph Hong

New York, NY
VIGIL Organizers: Danielle Chang, Gwendolyn E. Lindsay-Jackson, Crystal Sun Kim

VIGIL Organizers: Rose Tibayan, Nancy Loo

Birmingham, AL
VIGIL Organizers: Lisa Anderson, Max Neubauer

Portland, OR
VIGIL Organizers: Meghan Miller Jedrzejczyk, Max Neubauer

San Francisco, CA
VIGIL Organizers: Lynn Perkins, Mike Shen, Gibson Pearl

Los Angeles, CA
VIGIL Organizers: Welly Yang, Kristiana Velasco, Joe Omar Gonzales, Joyce Mar

National Organizer: Brendan McShane Creamer
Email address: blove73@msn.com
Phone 215.699.4338

Please bring candles for the vigils.
We hope you can make it.
Now more than ever, it's extremely important that people are made aware of Euna Lee and Laura Ling's situation. To learn more, visit this Facebook group, which is being regularly updated with information on what you can do to help. Spread the word. Free Euna and Laura!

the new spelling bee champion

Once again, South Asian dominance. Last night, 13-year-old Kavya Shivashankar of Olathe, Kansas outlasted ten other finalists with her mad spelling skillz to become the new national spelling bee champion: Aspiring neurosurgeon from Kansas is top speller.

The winning word: "Laodicean," which means lukewarm or indifferent in religion or politics. Kavya took home more than $40,000 in cash and prizes, a giant trophy, and super spelling awesomeness bragging rights.

If you know anything about the Scripps National Spelling Bee, you know that South Asians have been spelling their asses off and taking the title for the better part of the past decade. This year was no different. Kavya became the seventh Indian American in 11 years to win.

I was really enjoying the spelling bee coverage this week over at Sepia Mutiny, who proudly declared that "Indian Americans own spelling." I guess the question was not whether an Indian American student would win. The real question was which one would win.

in theaters: up, drag me to hell

Opening in theaters today, Pixar's latest animated feature Up, a movie I've been waiting all year to see. What makes this film particularly special is that one of the story's heroes is a young wilderness scout named Russell... who just happens to be Asian American.

Oh, they don't say Russell is Asian, and it's not really integral to the story. But I guess that's what makes it so cool -- he's just a funny character in a Pixar story. And he's even voiced by an Asian American kid, Jordan Nagai, who was chosen from about 500 kids who auditioned for the role.

Here's a profile on Jordan: Jordan Nagai, 'Up'. Funny thing is, his brother was actually the one who showed up to audition for the role. Jordan just tagged along, and the producers saw something in him and gave him a shot. Now his voice is in one of the biggest movies of the summer.

Also opening in wide release: Drag Me to Hell, director Sam Raimi's return to crazy, freak-you-out horror. It's about a young woman who finds herself on the receiving of a nasty curse. Dileep Rao is in the cast as Rham Jas, who I think tries to help her get rid of the curse. Reggie Lee is also in the movie as Stu.

And opening in limited release, Yojiro Takira's Departures, this year's surprise Academy Award winner for Best Foreign Language Picture. The movie's about an unemployed cellist who reluctantly takes a job doing funeral services, and through death, begins to understand what life is really about. Go here to see where the film is playing. And here's a short interview with the director: Just a Minute With: Japan's Oscar-winning Yojiro Takita.

And finally, opening at the Cinema Village in New York City, Stephane Gauger's crtically acclaimed, award-winning Saigon drama Owl and the Sparrow. The film is being distributed by Wave Releasing, a new distribution company made up of Vietnamese American filmmakers and producers bringing outstanding independent movies to the mainstream. If you're in New York, this is your chance to check out a great indie gem.

sammy lee gets a star

Dr. Sammy Lee is something of a legend. He was the first Asian American athlete to win an Olympic gold medal for the United States, and the first man to win back-to-back gold medals in Olympic platform diving.

Lee won a gold medal in diving at the 1948 London Olympic Games and again in 1952 at Helsinki. He also coached the American diving team, and in 1976 he coached Olympian Greg Louganis to a silver medal. Basically, he's awesome.

Now 88 years old, Dr. Lee recently became the eleventh recipient of a star on the Anaheim/OC Walk of Stars: Famed diver Sammy Lee gets a star and, he jokes, a headstone. Not quite the Hollywood Walk of Fame, but still an honor greatly deserved.

ronald takaki's death was suicide

On Wednesday, we heard the sad news about the Ronald Takaki's passing. There weren't any initial details given about the cause of his death -- just that he died in his home on Tuesday. But his family has revealed that Professor Takaki committed suicide: Ronald T. Takaki dies at 70; pioneer in the field of ethnic studies.

A prolific and sometimes controversial scholar, he had struggled for nearly 20 years with multiple sclerosis, a potentially debilitating neurological disease for which there is no cure. According to his son, he couldn't deal with it anymore, and took his own life.

This is devastating. Takaki was a profoundly influential activist, thinker and educator that left an indelible impact on a generation of students and researchers everywhere -- both Asian American and otherwise. I can't imagine the kind of suffering he was in, but it's just tragic that we have to lose such important community scholar this way.

A memorial service is planned at UC Berkeley at a later date. The family requests that any memorial donations be sent to the Asian Law Caucus, 55 Columbus Ave., San Francisco, CA 94111.


reminder: national aapi house party

Just one last reminder about the National AAPI House Party hosted by Asian Pacific Americans for Progress, a nationwide conversation on the state of Asian Pacific America happening this Sunday, May 31 at 4:00pm EST/ 1:00pm PST. Join in on a nationwide conference call with Konrad Ng, the brother-in-law of President Obama. The mister to the sister!

The call will also feature a number of high-profile Asian Americans in the Obama Administration, including Asst. Secretary of Veteran Affairs Tammy Duckworth, Executive Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement Tina Tchen and Director of Social Innovation and Civic Participation Sonal Shah. And maybe a couple of other surprise guests.

They're happening all over, from Los Angeles to Ohio to Wisconsin to D.C. To find out how you can join in, and where a house party is happening in your area, visit the APA for Progress website here.

a letter to the "lonely heart"

Since we've been talking a lot about weirdo Asian fetishes, "beautiful Asian bride" ads and Alec Baldwin's idiotic mail-order bride joke, here's a cool poem by spoken word artist Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai with a similar vibe. She tells me she wrote it a while back for a panel on sex trafficking, and I think it's pretty appropriate:
Dear Lonely Heart of the Industrially Advantaged World
by Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai

i know it gets hard
being on your own

you saw in the movies
that Lucy Liu can be pretty,
kick ass, and fuck like a rabbit

and those girls in "The Joy Luck Club"
cry their eyes out in shame whenever
they denigrate the FAMILY

your college roomie brought over
that bright, talented Filipina wife

and for the record:
they are very very happy

even that dull, bad hygiene-d co-worker
of yours got some internet thing going on
with a gorgeous girl from Belarus? Colombia?

the options must feel over-whelming

who knows what to look for
clicking through thousands
of beautiful young faces

even thirteen year olds
for men who are into that sort of thing

all looking for "a lifetime partner aged 25-60"
or "friends 30 and above"

and you fit the bill PERFECTLY
don't you?

a few Aussies you met online joked that:

"it's cheaper to get an Asian wife
than to get an Asian prostitute"

but that's not what you want at all
you want the real thing, a proper wife

you'll pay the broker fees, the airplane
tickets, the legal costs because you're
not like Lester Barney who slit
his Ukrainian wife Alla's neck in front
of their 4-year old child in the parking lot
of a daycare center

you're not like Timothy Blackwell
who choked his Filipina wife Susanna
on their wedding day and fatally shot
her and her two friends while she
was pregnant awaiting an annulment

you're not like Indle King who didn't
want to waste the money on a divorce
from his 18 year old wife, Anastasia,
from Kyrgyzstan and strangled her
to death with a necktie instead

you both agree that you're no monster
so why should you be required to have a
criminal and marital background check or
be screened on the National Sex
Offenders Database?

why these marriages only have
a 20% divorce rate and the fact that
their domestic violence rates are higher
could be total hearsay --

after all, why would the women stay?

i feel you Lonely Heart and i wish
you all the best of luck in love

but if you can imagine for a moment
if your wife already had citizenship,
already had entry into an economically
advantaged world

what would she do if she had as many choices,
as many ways out of poverty, as many English
words as you to express exactly how she feels,
and have the world listen to her as it does to you

i understand this may make you feel
a little insecure about your relationship

but please do sit with this insecurity

emerge from the fantasy

and i wish you the courage and clarity
we all need
to listen and to love well
I think she breaks it down quite nicely, don't you think? You can hear audio of Kelly performing this piece here. Listen and learn. And to learn more about Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai (one of the 30 Most Influential Asian Americans Under 30), visit her website here.

roxana saberi speaks

Now that Roxana Saberi is safely back in the United States, she's been doing a bunch of press interviews, speaking about her three-month ordeal in Iranian prison on charges of spying for the U.S.: Roxana Saberi Released From Iranian Prison 'With My Head Held High'.

Here's the in-depth interview segment she did with Melissa Block for NPR's All Things Considered: Roxana Saberi On Her Imprisonment In Iran. I recommend listening to the audio of the full 25-minute interview.

She explains the events that led to her arrest, her four months in a Tehran prison, why she gave a false confession (under psychological duress), and her take on evidence that was used against her that resulted in a speedy trial on April 13. To this day, she doesn't know why she was arrested -- or why she was freed.

I'm glad she's safely back to tell her story. I hope and pray that we'll eventually -- sooner than later -- see the safe release of Euna Lee and Laura Ling from North Korean prison, and they'll be back home to tell their stories too.

30 under 30: dan choi

Dan Choi
Age: 28
Founding Member, Knights Out

Why he's influential: Because "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is an idiotic policy, and he chose to do something about it. Army First Lieutenant Dan Choi is the voice behind Knights Out, a group of 38 West Point graduates who publicly announced their sexual orientation and offered to serve as liaisons for the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the U.S. military's ridiculous Clinton-era policy regarding gay soldiers in its ranks.

Shortly after declaring his sexual orientation while appearing on The Rachel Maddow Show, Choi received notification that he would be discharged from the military. Never mind the fact that he's an upstanding, exceptional solder -- an infantry officer, an Iraq combat veteran and a West Point graduate with a degree in Arabic. Apparently, none of these qualifications are relevant.

But when he uttered the words "I am gay," Dan somehow "negatively affected good order and discipline in the New York Army National Guard." I don't know much about the military, but I'm fairly certain that if the soldiers in Dan's infantry unit are worth a damn, they could function perfectly fine before and after his announcement.

Through everything that's unfolded with Knights Out, Dan Choi has emerged as a leader in the gay rights movement. It's obvious that he's a good soldier. But more than that, he's a guy who could not sit quietly while he saw injustice and unfairness perpetuate in the institution he'd put his trust in. Call me crazy, but it seems to me that America could use more guys like Dan Choi.

See the rest of the 30 Most Influential Asian Americans Under 30 here.

call for submissions: apature 2009

Calling all APA artists... Kearny Street Workshop, the oldest Asian Pacific American multidisciplinary arts organization in the United States, is now accepting submissions for the 11th annual APAture festival of emerging Asian American artists, happening September 17-26, 2009.

Each year, APAture showcases about 100 artists at venues throughout San Francisco, making it the Bay Area's biggest platform for Asian American art. I've attended APAture events in the past, and it's just a really cool showcase to get exposed to up-and-coming APA artists and interact with the Bay Area arts community.

APAture's mission is to provide artists with an early experience presenting their work at a large event; to build audiences for emerging APA artists; to strengthen the sense of community among artists; and to raise awareness of the existence of and diversity within the APA arts community.

They're currently accepting submissions in five disciplines: visual arts, film & video, literary arts and performing arts. The deadline to is submit is July 11. For more information, visit the Kearny Street Workshop website here. You can download a PDF of the artist submission form, or submit online here.

city council member loses seat by one vote

John Tran, former mayor and city councilman of Rosemead, California has lost his seat. By one vote. Last week, when the latest recount left him a single vote short of winning one of the three city council seats up for election, Tran officially called it quits: By one vote, an election in lost in Rosemead.

After the March 3 election -- with all the provisional and absentee ballots counted -- Tran found himself in fourth place, behind by 30 votes. A hand recount narrowed the margin to five votes... but still leaving him in in fourth place. A two-month campaign to contest disqualified absentee ballots got him four more votes.

That left him with one vote short. And he couldn't come up with it. So Tran lost his seat. Ouch. So if you're one of those people who thinks that you're vote doesn't count, tell that to John Tran, former Rosemead City Council member.

hey loser, find your beautiful asian bride

Speaking of an Asian fetish... Is anyone else seriously angered by idiotic banner ads like this that frequently pop up in the rotation of Google's AdSense network? I'm guessing it's likely you've encountered something like in your blog travels.

Basically, Google uses its magical search technology to serve advertisements based on a website's content. Unfortunately, if you run a blog that has anything remotely to do with Asian content, you're going to get served crappy ads like "Looking for a beautiful Asian bride?" and "Asian Girls For Love & Marriage." You know what I'm talking about.

Is there any wonder why our community is constantly grappling with Asian fetish sex crimes and mail-order bride jokes? Don't tell me ads like this don't feed that impulse. At least they know their target demographic. Could they have found a more sorry-looking loser-ass guy to pose for this ad?

san diego minutemen leader loses defamation lawsuit

Saw this on the Southern Poverty Law Center blog... Last week, Jeff Schwilk, leader of the San Diego Minutemen, was ordered to pay $135,000 to Joanne Yoon, a Korean American civil rights activist who filed a defamation lawsuit against Schwilk and fellow Minutemen member Ray Carney in 2007: S.D. Minutemen leader loses defamation lawsuit.

Yoon, working as an independent contractor for the American Civil Liberties Union in 2006, monitored the activities of the Minutemen at day-labor sites, where members and their supporters frequently protest. According to the lawsuit, the two defendants referred repeatedly to Yoon in e-mails and on the web in vulgar terms, referring to her as "the Korean anorexic ACLU slut."

They also apparently posted images of Yoon on a Yahoo group called "Korean Kommie Kunt." Later, when female San Diego Minutemen activists objected (thanks, ladies), Schwilk changed the name of the group to "Joanne Yoon ACLU Goon." Clever. And sensitive.

In addition, mass emails to Minutemen members suggested that Yoon was interested in protecting the civil rights of Mexican immigrants because of her fondness for "Brown Schlong." I sense that this guy harbors a great deal of hostility towards immigrants. And anybody who "looks" like an immigrant. Unfortunately for him, that hostility is going to cost a court-ordered $135,000.

daniel henney in cbs drama three rivers

Have you heard? Half-Korean heartthrob Daniel Henney, who can be seen as Agent Zero in this summer's X-Men Origins: Wolverine, is in the starring cast of Three Rivers, a new TV drama recently picked up for CBS' prime time fall schedule: Henney's US TV Series to Air in Fall.

The show is "a medical drama that goes inside the emotionally complex lives of organ donors, the recipients and the surgeons at the preeminent transplant hospital in the country where every moment counts. However, dealing with donor families in their darkest hour and managing the fears and concerns of apprehensive recipients takes much more than just a sharp scalpel."

Henney will play Dr. David Lee, "a womanizing surgical resident who's broken as many hearts as he's replaced." Oh my. This should be very interesting. Daniel Henney! On TV! Every week! Believe me, I know more than a few ladies who just read this news and immediately set their DVRs.

man on trial for asian fetish sexual assault

This is sickening... In Palo Alto, a man is on trial for the brutal sexual assault of an Asian American high school student in October 2007. The motive? According to prosecutors, a seriously dangerous sexual fetish for underage Asian girls: DA: Sexual fetish was motive in 2007 attack on Palo Alto girl.

In closing arguments this week, the Deputy District Attorney told jurors to treat the evidence against Todd Burpee as they would evidence in a murder trial, where the victim couldn't point to her attacker in the courtroom. In this case, the victim just couldn't face the man who beat her unconscious, kidnapped her and sexually assaulted her.
Directly suggesting a motive for the first time, Leonard beamed onto a projection screen side-by-side a photograph of the victim and an image of a nude young Asian girl found on a computer Burpee allegedly used. The resemblance was clear.

"I don't know if he stalked Jane Doe or attacked her at random," said Leonard, referring to the victim. Regardless, he argued, the pornographic images showed he had a sexual interest in underage Asian girls and intended from the start to sexually assault the victim.

As for the attacker's identity, Leonard said, "Jane Doe did not need to point to the defendant, because a mountain of evidence points to him."
Evidence against Burpee included DNA found in his car that matched the victim's, as well as one of her earrings, and several items she described seeing while playing dead in his back seat that matched what police detectives found when they looked inside the car.

That's just the beginning of a long list of evidence that connects Burpee to the victim, and it sure as hell can't all be a coincidence. Still, the defense argued that no physical evidence linked Burpee's DNA to the girl, leaving room for reasonable doubt.

Burpee is charged with one count of attempted murder, two counts of assault with the intent of rape or sexual penetration, two counts of assault likely to cause great bodily injury, one count of kidnapping for the purpose of sexual assault, and one charge of sexual penetration by force. Each comes with a possible enhancement for causing great bodily injury. If convicted on all counts, Burpee could face 48 years to life in prison. More here: Jury starts deliberation in Palo Alto sex assault trial.


ron takaki, r.i.p.

I just received word that activist, scholar and UC Berkeley Ethnic Studies professor Ronald Takaki passed away unexpectedly yesterday at his home in Berkeley. I don't have any more details -- all I've received is one forwarded email and a multiple Facebook messages -- but I'm told he was in poor health for quite some time. I'm sure more information, as well as tributes, will soon emerge... In the meantime, pour one out and crack open your copy of Strangers From a Different Shore in his honor.

UPDATE: Here's the official release from UC Berkeley on Ronald Takaki's passing: Ronald Takaki, pioneering scholar of race relations, dies at 70.

My friend Oiyan wrote this nice piece over at the APAP blog on Professor Takaki, and the impact of his work on her own life. I'm cross-posting it here:

Pioneering Ethnic Studies Scholar, Ron Takaki Passes

I got a text message today from a friend that read, "Saw on facebook that Ron Takaki passed away. Did u hear the same?" I checked me email, and indeed, I received an email from another friend who is an alumnus of Cal sending out the notice that one of the most important Ethnic Studies scholars and teachers had passed. Berkeley has also put out an initial public notice of his passing. I knew that Professor Takaki had been ill for a while. He was just awarded with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Association of Asian American Studies conference in Honolulu, and Professor Michael Omi, who accepted the award on his behalf, mentioned that Professor Takaki's health was not well.

His passing has me thinking about how much Professor Takaki's work impacted my trajectory in life. I first encountered his book Strangers from a Different Shore at the local public library in Springfield, Massachusetts. It had just been published, and I was 16. I'm not sure how I came across the book, but I found myself feeling like I needed to hide as I read the book. Each chapter detailed Asian American history, which until that point, I had no idea existed. With each chapter read, I began feeling more and more power. The knowledge the book presented almost felt illicit. Having grown up in a provincial, all-white, lower-middle class, mostly immigrant community, and being told over and over by the society in which I was growing up that my experience did not matter, the book was electrifying. I remember checking the book out, going straight home, and sitting in the corner of my bedroom on the floor, door closed, and the book lit by my desk lamp I had brought with me to the floor. I'm not sure why I read it like that, but I remember shaking as I devoured the book. You have to understand that in my experience, true relevant knowledge was made out to be illicit and dangerous. When I was 13, I wasn't allowed to do a book report on the Autobiography of Malcolm X. Maybe that's why I hid in a corner to read Takaki's book when I was 16. I do remember that the book was critical in helping me make sense of the violently racist experiences I had and the historical contexts for these experiences, and my relationship to the rest of the world around me, as an Asian American. It was the first time I realized I was Asian American, and I began to develop a voice.

Thank you Professor Takaki for significantly contributing toward the movement for Ethnic Studies, for educating so many of us, and for empowering us with a voice.

kollaboration hip hop and laugh-off

The Kollaboration folks are at it again! If you're in Los Angeles, you want to make it out to their hot summer show, Kollab Hip Hop & Laugh-Off, featuring a cool lineup of up-and-coming hip hop acts and hilarious standup comics. It's all going down on Friday, June 12 at the Ford Amphitheatre in Hollywood. Read on for details:
Date: Friday, June 12, 2009
Time: 8:30PM
Venue: Ford Amphitheatre
2580 Cahuenga Blvd East
Hollywood, CA 90068

Line up includes:
Dumbfoundead, Verseatile, tier2, 3Strykes Krew, Starstudded, Funky Soul & Asylum!
Watch the Bboy Battle & audience members can compete in the Freestyle Dance Contest for cash prizes!
Comedians include Gery Bednob, Rajiv Satyal, & Kevin Shea
Looks like it's going to be another great show. Music, comedy, community... what better way to spend a summer evening? To purchase tickets, go here. Students and kids get in for just $5. For more information, including the full lineup, venue and parking information, visit the Kollaboration website here.

kelly kapowski... asian american film director?

I heard about this news several months back, but it sort of got buried in my mailbox... Nevertheless, it's definitely intriguing. According to the website of tit 4 tat Productions, Tiffani Thiessen's production company, the former Saved By the Bell actress will make her full-length directorial debut with Hung, based on an original screenplay by Derek Nguyen:
The coming-of-age 80s teen comedy centers on seventeen year old, Hung Tran, who attends Anaheim High in Orange County. An outcast in every social circle, Hung desperately wants to be cool and to belong. Before the school year is over, he'll expose his name sake, share an unexpected first kiss and realize you"re sometimes better off without the girl. He'll also learn that life can change for the better -- if given time.
Yes, that Tiffani (Amber) Thiessen, who played Kelly Kapowski, the babe of Bayside High. And bad girl Valerie Malone in Beverly Hills 90210. She'll direct as well as produce, along with partner Dean Johnson and Anne Clements.

As of January, casting was underway, and the film was slated film in Los Angeles. I don't have much more information than that, except for this site that lists the cast as Claire Holt, Mason Lee, and "Long Duk Dong." WTF? Can any good come of this? Admit it -- you're extremely curious too.

30 under 30: rik cordero

Rik Cordero
Age: 30

Why he's influential: Because he's bringing gritty guerilla filmmaking to hip hop. Hailing from New York, Frederic Joseph "Rik" Cordero is an independent film/video director who has quickly established himself as the go-to guy for bringing low-budget innovation and a non-traditional aesthetic to hip hop music videos. Hands down, he's one of the hardest working guys in hip hop.

With his production company, Three/21 Media, he's been downright prolific, directing independent music videos by artists like Jay-Z, Nas, Snoop Dogg, Busta Rhymes, The Roots, Q-Tip, Ghostface Killah, Talib Kweli, Beanie Sigel and John Legend, to name a few. Recently, he was nominated for Video Director of the Year for the 2009 BET Awards.

In July, Rik's second feature film Inside a Change will make its world premiere at the 2009 New York International Latino Film Festival. The film is an urban drama about a prison-bound young man who must re-examine his life and bring his troubled family together for his mother's birthday.

Praise for Rik's work is high, and all over the place. He's been called a visionary, a hustler, a rebel, a craftsman, a tastemaker, and "the only hip hip video director on the planet." He's all or most of these things, but also simply an artist, providing a provocative audio/visual soundtrack for this generation.

See the rest of the 30 Most Influential Asian Americans Under 30 here.

chinese american photographer benjamen chinn dies at 87

Benjamen Chinn, one of the few Chinese American photographers to live and artfully document street scenes in San Francisco Chinatown, has died. He was 87: Benjamen Chinn dies at 87; photographer documented San Francisco's Chinatown.

Often photographing from the doorway of his home in Chinatown, Chinn began training his camera on his neighborhood in the late 1930s, but his most productive years were from 1947-1949 while he was studying at what is now the San Francisco Art Institute.

He was considered an accomplished photographer, though his work had comparatively little public exposure during his lifetime. It wasn't until 2003 that Chinn received a major solo exhibition at the Chinese Historical Society of San Francisco. To see some of his photos, go here.

him mark lai, 1925-2009

We've lost two significant Asian American scholars in under a week. With the passing of Professor Takaki, I just learned that Chinese American historian Him Mark Lai died last week. The internationally noted scholar and writer was the author of ten books, more than 100 essays, and referred to by many as the "Dean of Chinese American History." He was 83: Him Mark Lai: Dean of Chinese American History, Passes (1925-2009). Learn more about Him Mark Lai's work here: Him Mark Lai Digital Archive Project.

jose canseco vs. giant korean guy

This is one really weird sports story... Over the weekend, former Major League baseball player Jose Canseco faced off in a mixed martial arts match against 7-foot-2, 330-pound Korean kickboxer Hong Man Choi, and pretty much got wiped out. I'm not making this up: Canseco lasts 76 seconds with Korean giant before tapping out.

The fight was part of DREAM's Super Hulk Tournament. The entire event was a farce consisting of four fights that featured an average weight difference of 87.6 pounds. Basically, a freak show. Once upon a time, Canseco was the American League MVP. Has it really come to this, Jose? Going head to head with a giant Korean guy? Watch some video of the fight here.

john yoo's inquirer column sparks protests

I don't think anyone's really surprised by this... Last week in Philadelphia, protesters gathered outside the Inquirer offices in opposition to the newspaper's newest regular columnist, now-infamous Bush administration torture memo author John Yoo: Yoo columns spark protest at Inky. I wonder how it feels for your name to be synonymous with "torture"?

charice pemepengco performs on oprah

Charice Pempengco is the amazing teen singer from the Philippines who started getting crazy attention a few years back when video clips of her performing hit the web. People were stunned that such a powerhouse voice could emerge from such a young girl.

Now 17 years old, she recently appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show for "Oprah's Search for the World's Most Talented Kids," where she debuted her first internationally released single, "Note to God," written by Diane Warren and produced by David Foster. It was available on iTunesicon the same day.

View the video here. Whether you dig the song or not, you've got to admit, it's pretty stunning performance. She's apparently now working on her U.S. debut album, to be released in fall 2009 from Warner Bros. Records. I think you can expect some pretty big things from this girl with the big voice.

racism hurts kids' mental health

This article, published earlier in the month, comes from the "no duh" file... According to a recent study, fifth graders who feel they've been mistreated because of their skin color are much more likely than classmates without such feelings to have symptoms of mental disorders, especially depression: Racism hurts kids' mental health.

There is evidence that racial discrimination increases the odds that adolescents and adults will develop mental health problems, but this is apparently the first study to examine a possible link in children of varied races.

It doesn't prove that discrimination caused the emotional problems, because unlike studies of older people, these children weren't followed over time. It's possible that prejudice harms children's mental health, but it's also possible that troubled kids prompt more discriminatory remarks from peers or that children with emotional problems perceive more bias.

Yes, the link between perceived racism and mental disorders is strong. But here's what bugs me about this study. There is absolutely no mention of Asians. According to the article, "Prejudice was reported by 20% of blacks, 15% of Hispanics, 16% in the "other" category and 7% of whites."

You've got to be kidding me. Did no one conducting this study bother to ask any Asian kids about perceived racism? Are they part of this nondescript "other" category? Or perhaps someone thinks that Asian kids somehow do not suffer from prejudice. Because I can tell you for a fact that they do. Seriously, what's up with the omission?


relaunch: fra magazine

My friends at music/culture/lifestyle brand Future Rockstars of America inform me that they've just re-structred and re-launched their blog. Lots of cool content and pretty graphics, with much more to come. Their mission: to document the cultural happenings and changes around us, thus perpetuating "Local talent on a global scale." Check it out here.

moving beyond mail-order brides

Czerina Salud has a piece in the Huffington Post responding to Alec Baldwin's "Filipino mail-order bride" joke on The Late Show a few weeks back, and his subsequent half-hearted apology, adding a much-needed (and absent thus far) Filipina voice to the dialogue about this incident, and addressing the tired issue of jokes about the sexual currency of Asian women. Check it: If Hello Kitty Had A Mouth She'd Be Screaming By Now.

submit to postmimi

I recently heard from Karen, who has started a new blog project called PostMimi. The idea is for readers to anonymously submit secrets -- the good, the bad, the ugly -- in the form of art. I'm assuming the premise is based on the wildly popular PostSecret blog ("mimi" is the Chinese word for "secret"). The goal is to create a dialogue within the Asian American community about our joys, sorrows, triumphs, and frustrations. To submit:
Two ways to submit your Mimi's:

1. E-mail your lovely, thought-provoking, Asian-American creations to:


Postcards should be scanned and attached to the e-mail. All e-mails would be kept anonymous. or...

2. They can be mailed to:

PostMiMi Apt. 206
3215 N. Charles Street
Baltimore, MD 21218

All postcards will be kept anonymous.
For more information, visit the blog here. Looks like things are just getting started, so there isn't much there. But it's a pretty intriguing premise, and having seen some really amazing, heartbreaking and hilarious things on PostSecret, this has the potential to be a really brilliant blog. But I guess that depends on you.

30 under 30: dimple rana

Dimple Rana
Age: 29
Co-Founder, Deported Diaspora

Why she's influential: Because she's working to raise awareness about deportation in the Cambodian American community and beyond. A longtime advocate for the Asian American community in Boston, Dimple Rana is the co-founder of Deported Diaspora, an organization raising awareness and challenging the U.S. deportation system through education, organizing, advocacy and art.

A Gujarati Indian American woman, Dimple grew up with the Cambodian American refugee community in Revere, Massachusetts. Over the past 11 years she has been actively involved in community organizing, social justice education, gang violence prevention and social, educational, and economic support within the Cambodian American community.

Since 2002, when the U.S. and Cambodia signed a repatriation agreement ordering the repatriation of over 1,500 Cambodian American refugees convicted of "aggravated felonies," Dimple has been part of a movement to fight deportations of Cambodian Americans. In 2005, she moved to Phnom Penh for two years to help develop social services, entrepreneurial opportunities, substance abuse recovery and advocacy for refugee deportees.

Last year, Dimple returned to Boston to establish Deported Diaspora. With very little funding, she and her co-founders have organized public outreach events, protests/ demonstrations, policy efforts, outreach and counseling to families, and legal assistance to tackle individual deportation cases, as well as the larger issue of deportation.

See the rest of the 30 Most Influential Asian Americans Under 30 here.

california supreme court upholds prop 8

In a 6-1 decision, the California Supreme Court today validated Proposition 8, passed by voters in November, which banned same-sex marriage. However, the ruling will not affect 18,000 gay and lesbian couples who got married before the measure went into effect. Here's the press release I received from APALC shortly after the decision was announced:

Ruling on California Proposition 8 Cases allows a bare majority of voters to enshrine inequality into our constitution and to deprive an entire class of Californians of the fundamental freedom to marry.

Los Angeles, CA - The California Supreme Court today ruled in a 6 to 1 decision that the initiative process in California can be used to strip away fundamental rights from a minority group that has historically been subject to discrimination.

API Equality and API Equality–LA, two organizations that have worked single-mindedly to build public support for same-sex marriage in the Asian and Pacific Islander communities since 2004, are severely disappointed that the Supreme Court will uphold a proposition revoking marriage rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people.

"We are extremely saddened that the Court saw it fit to take away rights from a minority group," said Karin Wang of Asian Pacific American Legal Center. "Essentially, the court has set forth a dangerous precedent where a simple majority vote is able to strip away the fundamental rights of a protected minority group."

"As Asian and Pacific Islanders, we are no strangers to the perils of selective justice," stated Jury Candelario of API Equality-LA. "From bans on immigration and interracial marriage, our community has often been the victim of such discrimination. We cannot stand silent as the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender members of our communities come under fire from the same sort of prejudice that has so often hurt our families."

According to the Williams Institute, an LGBT think tank based at UCLA, there are approximately 66,000 LGBT Asian and Pacific Islanders living in California—the largest in the nation. With the court's decision to uphold Prop 8, the fundamental right to marry is no longer a right afforded to them.

Fortunately, the Court has chosen to maintain the marriage status of the 18,000 couples who married during the short period that same-sex marriage was legal.

"While today's decision is deeply disappointing, we are inspired by the recent victories in Iowa and Vermont and are committed to working together so that marriage equality will become a restored right for all," said HyunJoo Lee from the National Korean American Service and Education Consortium.

Whereas a little over ten years ago, only a handful of API organizations were visibly and vocally supportive of same-sex couples right to marry, among the first was the Japanese American Citizen's League. Today, through API Equality – LA and API Equality's efforts, more than 60 API organizations and our leading API elected officials and community leaders have come on record in support of marriage equality for same-sex couples via an amicus brief supporting last year's In Re Marriage Cases and more recently in public endorsements opposing Proposition 8.
APALC is the nation's largest legal organization serving the Asian and Pacific Islander (API) communities. Founded in 1983, APALC is a unique organization that combines traditional legal services with civil rights advocacy and leadership development. The mission of APALC is to advocate for civil rights, provide legal services and education and build coalitions to positively influence and impact Asian Pacific Americans and to create a more equitable and harmonious society.

API Equality-LA is a coalition of organizations and individuals who are committed to working in the Asian and Pacific Islander (API) communities in Greater Los Angeles for equal marriage rights and fair treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) families through community education and advocacy.

get paul dateh's album for free

As you might know, my man Paul Dateh, violinist extraordinaire, recently released his self-title debut album. You can get physical copies at CD Baby, and digital copies at the usual online retailers like iTunesicon. It's a great album, with a little something for everybody. Paul's an awesome musician, and a nice guy too.

Case in point... maybe you want to get your hands on the album, but just don't have the cash. It's all good. Over the next ten weeks, Paul will be giving away the album for free, one song at a time. Watch the video above for details, and download the first song, "Be More," here. And check back on Paul's YouTube channel next week for word on song number two.

asian american theater companies in the news

Tim Dang, producing artistic director of East West Players, will receive a $125,000 Leadership Award next month from the James Irvine Foundation, which is citing him for making the theater company a source of "understanding and appreciation for California's diversity," along with its mission of creating opportunities for Asian American artists: East West Players' Tim Dang wins $125,000 award.

Also, check out this recent local news segment by David Ono on the groundbreaking Lodestone Theatre Ensemble, which is celebrating its tenth and final year. It features a bunch of actors, including Tamlyn Tomita, Daniel Dae Kim, James Kyson Lee, Camille Mana and Alec Mapa, who performed and honed their craft under the Lodestone banner. To learn more about Lodestone, including its current show Ten to Life, visit the website here.

And finally, Ma-Yi Theater Company's American Hwangap, now playing at The Wild Project in New York through June 7, got a solid, glowing review last week from the New York Times: Happy 60th Birthday, Dad, but Where Have You Been?

blood: the last vampire u.s. trailer

I know I've previously mentioned the live-action Blood: The Last Vampire adaptation before, but I've neglected to mention the trailer, which has been making the rounds for a while. The movie, based on Hiroyuki Kitakubo 2000 cult hit anime of the same name, marks South Korean actress Jeon Ji-Hyun's English-language debut.

Jeon, who has apparently changed her name to Gianna Jun for the leap over the Hollywood, stars as Saya, a half-human, half-vampire samurai who is part of a covert government agency that hunts and destroys demons. In post-WWII Japan, she is inserted in an American military school to discover which one of her classmates is a demon in disguise.

Yay, for demon-hunting half-vampires. While I was a fan of the original animated movie, and enjoy vampire asskicking as much as the next guy, I am skeptical about whether this can stand out amongst the Buffy/Blade/Underworld narratives out there. And can Ms. Jun prove her chops as an English-speaking star? I guess we're going to find out. The movie is set to open in theaters sometime this summer.

phone extortionists targeting asian business owners

CNN reports on an extortion scheme targeting Asian American business owners over the phone... They've apparently been threatened with death and violence if they don't send money to extortionists phoning from China: Asian-American merchants being targeted by extortionists.

The calls have been made from Skype, which lets users make free calls using computers. The transfers are hard to trace, because the extortionists are likely using fake identification cards to set up accounts with money wire services.

According to authorities, the callers are demanding $20,000 to $30,000 to get a brother out of jail in China. The business owners are threatened with death, harm to their children or bombing of their business.

Victims have reportedly been targeted in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New Jersey, New York and Canada. While the extortionists have received as much as $100,000 from across the United States, thankfully, no one has been physically harmed.

park chan-wook's thirst wins cannes jury prize

Over the weekend, at the closing of the 62nd Cannes Film Festival, the internationally acclaimed South Korean director Park Chan-Wook nabbed the Jury Prize (the festival's third place award) for his latest work, the dark vampire thriller Thirst: 'Thirst' Wins Jury Prize.

The tale centers on a priest who is infected by a virus and becomes a vampire. The film shared the award with British director Andrew Arnold's teen drama Fish Tank. Park previously won the festival's Grand Prix in 2004 with the revenge thriller Old Boy.

True to form, Hollywood is already talking about the inevitable English-language remake rights: H'wood has 'Thirst' for films by Park. Several of Park's films are already being developed for big studio remakes, including Oldboy, Lady Vengeance and Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance. In the meantime, I can't wait to get a look at Thirst. In Korean.


soul 2 sole by david park

Just came across this cool motion graphics piece, Soul 2 Sole, a thesis project by David Park, who is graduating from Parsons School of Design. Obviously, it's a about sneaker culture and its larger connections with hip hop, fashion, sports, music, etc. Cool video. Somebody give this guy a job!

secret identities at janm

Check it out, my fellow comic book geeks. By now, you all know about Secret Identities, the Asian American superhero comic book anthology. This weekend, celebrate the west coast leg of the Secret Identities tour with editors Jeff Yang, Parry Shen, Keith Chow and Jerry Ma. It's this Saturday, May 30 at the Japanese American National Museum. Some details:
Secret Identities: The Asian American Superhero Anthology
Saturday, May 30, 2009
6:30 PM

Asian Americans have become a driving force in the contemporary comics renaissance, as artists, writers and fans.

But there's one place where Asians are still underrepresented in comics: Between the four-color covers themselves.

That's why, in Secret Identities, top Asian American writers, artists and comics professionals have come together to create 26 original stories centered around Asian American Superheroes; stories set in a shadow history of our country, from the opening of the West to the election of the first minority president, and exploring ordinary Asian American life from a decidedly extraordinary perspective.

Join the editors:
*JEFF YANG, founder of the pioneering Asian American periodical "aMagazine" and author of the biweekly column "Asian Pop" for the San Francisco Chronicle
*PARRY SHEN, best known for his lead role in the movie "Better Luck Tomorrow"
*KEITH CHOW, freelance writer and comics-in-education specialist.
*JERRY MA, the founder of the indie comics studio Epic Proportions

--along with several contributors as they share previews of their respective stories through slide shows and video trailers. Make sure to stay to celebrate the LA premier!

Copies of SECRET IDENTITIES will be on hand for purchase and will be signed by the editors/contributors during the reception afterwards.
Admission is free! Stick around for a light reception. If you haven't picked up our copy of Secret Identities yet, you can pick one up at the event and get it signed, or maybe even get a sketch. For more information, visit the JANM events page here. The SI crew will also be at signing events all over the southland.

30 under 30: the gosselin kids

Cara, Madelyn, Alexis, Hannah, Aaden, Collin, Leah and Joel Gosselin
Ages: 8 and 5
Jon & Kate Plus 8

Why they're influential: Because America can't stop watching. I'll admit it. Long before Jon and Kate Gosselin's alleged marriage troubles were the fodder for every tabloid cover and Hollywood gossip show in America, I was an avid viewer of TLC's Jon & Kate Plus 8. Heck, I'm watching it right now as I write this. And chances are, I'll be tuning in to the season five premiere tonight.

I agonized back and forth over whether or not to include these kids on the list. The truth is, they had made the short list of candidates long before any of this negative media attention started. But for better or for worse, if it weren't for these eight extremely cute Korean American children, nobody would really care about the train-wreck tribulations of Jon and Kate.

Yes, growing up in front reality cameras show has its extreme drawbacks. As America, in all its unabashed voyeurism, fixates on everything that's going wrong between this couple, I wonder if anyone's stopped to ask how the media attention is affecting the kids. It's become clearly evident that their "we're just a normal family" refrain is a myth.

Say what you will about their parenting methods, or sometimes way-too-honest on-camera bickering, or rumored infidelity on both sides, or even Kate's WTF hairstyle. The fact of the matter is, there is a significant television-viewing audience that is fascinated by this very real, very large, biracial family, and has watched these kids grow up, season after season.

See the rest of the 30 Most Influential Asian Americans Under 30 here.

ken jeong in the hangover

The Hangover looks sort of funny, but really, this brilliantly funny man is the reason I will go see this movie. The movie's in theaters on June 5.

roxana saberi returns home; euna lee and laura ling face trial next week

American freelance journalist Roxana Saberi, who was accused of spying for the United States and spent 100 days in prison an Iran, safely returned to the U.S. last week: Journalist who was jailed by Iran returns to U.S.

Last month, she was convicted on espionage charges and sentenced to eight years in prison. But thanks to international pressure and a successful appeal, her sentence was changed to a two-year jail term and suspended for five years.

Meanwhile, American journalists Euna Lee and Laura Ling still remain detained in North Korea, accused of god-knows-what, awaiting trial and facing up to ten years in prison. Tomorrow marks their 11th week in custody. Where is the outcry? They need more support: Free Euna Lee and Laura Ling. Here is a message from their families:
A message from the Ling and Lee Families:

Dear Friends,

The families of Laura and Euna are moved beyond words by your show of support for our girls. The past 10 weeks have been the most stressful of our lives. We believe that the girls are in no physical danger and for that we a grateful. But as their days in detention progress, we have become increasingly concerned about their well-being and state of mind. Though the girls are strong, we know that they are very very scared.

We know that our government is working very hard to secure their release, but given the sensitivity of the situation and the fact that our two countries have no diplomatic relationship, our families are not making any public comments other than to thank you so very much for coming out to support our girls.

Many of you have never met Laura or Euna, but know that you are standing up for truth and justice. We, the families of the girls, deeply thank you for taking the time to be here to support two girls who just wanted to tell the world a story.

Most appreciatively,
The Families of Laura Ling and Euna Lee
Last week, there were public vigils held on their behalf all around the country, with more planned in the United States for June 3rd -- the day their trial begins in North Korea. Details are still coming together. Keep checking this Facebook group for more details, and what else you can do to help.

lyoto machida takes down rashad evans with badass karate

I'm not much of a follower of mixed martial arts, but plenty of people felt compelled to inform me that over the weekend, Japanese-Brazilian fighter Lyoto "The Dragon" Machida triumphed over Rashad Evans to win the UFC light heavyweight championship at UFC 98 in Las Vegas: UFC 98: Lyoto Machida knocks out Rashad Evans.

Machida, a karate specialist, used his kicks to gain the advantage, then landed a series of punches that knocked Evans down three times in the second round, finally flattening him with a devastating left hook. More here: UFC 98: The aftermath.

a fateful encounter at 'the wall'

This is a really touching story about Allen Hoe, a grieving father who traveled to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. to honor his son, Nainoa K. Hoe, an Army first lieutenant infantry officer who died in Iraq, and the fateful encounter he had at the memorial with a trauma nurse: Memorial Day Miracle At 'The Wall'.

"that's neaat! hay qua!" mini-fest

Vietnamese American friends in NYC, mark your calendars... "That's Neaat!/Hay Qua!" Mini-Fest, a collaboration between VASCON and NEEATO, presents its imaginative, unconventional, TED-inspired out-of-the-box program on Saturday, June 27 at The Bitter End in New York. According to the press release:
Mini-Fest has at least one goal: to alter the way you think about life, dreams, and everything in between. Already, rabble-rousing publishers, award-winning architects, writers, musicians, film directors, environmentalists, and rising chefs are signing up to present their bite-size talks and performances about what stirs their hearts and opens our eyes.
There's not a lot of information currently on the website, but the event is promising to be one of those cool events you'll regret missing. They've also partnered up with Kollaboration New York 2009 to bring you a discounted 2-in-1 early bird registration package for just $40, now through the end of the month. So be sure to register and get your tickets now.

hollywood chinese airing on pbs this week

Check your schedules, make our plans, set your Tivos... Arthur Dong's brilliant showbiz documentary Hollywood Chinese will be airing on public television starting this Wednesday, May 27 as part of PBS' American Masters series. Check your local listings for the exact airdate.

The 90-minute documentary is candid exploration of race issues in Hollywood, with old footage and interviews from the likes of Nancy Kwan, Joan Chen, James Hong, David Henry Hwang and Ang Lee, talking about the long history and future of Chinese talent in the movies.

For film buffs, and folks who are interested in the way Asian are depicted in mainstream media, Hollywood Chinese is both a delight and an important lesson on how far back this tricky game really goes. Here's an interesting article on the documentary from the Washington Post: A Chinese Legacy in Tinseltown.

And for those of you in the Bay Area, you can catch both Hollywood Chinese and Jeff Adachi's Slanted Screen airing on KQED back-to-back on Wednesday night. There will also be repeat airings of both films, so check the schedule carefully.

abducted filipino american activist resurfaces

Some disturbing news out of the Philippines... Los Angeles-based Filipino American activist Melissa Roxas, a member of BAYAN-USA and the cultural group Habi Arts, was abducted in Manila on May 19 -- most likely by the military -- but resurfaced yesterday, nearly a week later: Missing Fil-Am activist surfaces after 7 days.

Roxas was abducted last May 19 at around 1:30 pm in Sitio Bagong Sikat, Bgy. Kapanikian, La Paz, Tarlac. She was with two other volunteers, Juanito Carabeo and John Edward Handoc. Based on reports, she and her companions were taken by at least 8 fully-armed, bonnet-clad men on board two motorcycles and a Besta van without any plate numbers.

Her companions, Juanito Carabeo and John Edward Handoc, still remain unaccounted for. This is apparently the first case of a Filipino American activist to be abducted by suspected state security forces. A detailed account on where she was taken, what happened to her during her abduction, and how she resurfaced are still forthcoming.

The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan is still calling on the Arroyo government, the Department of National Defense and the Armed Forces of the Philippines for the immediate release of Carabeo and Handoc: MELISSA ROXAS' SURFACING A VICTORY OF THE PEOPLE'S STRUGGLE, BUT THE SEARCH CONTINUES FOR CARABEO & HANDOC


30 under 30: america's best dance crews

JabbaWockeeZ, Super Cr3w, Quest Crew
Ages: 22-31
Champions, America's Best Dance Crew

Why they're influential: Because damn, Asian Americans can dance. If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you know that I'm a huge fan of MTV's America's Best Dance Crew. I became an avid viewer at the beginning of season one, not only because it's an opportunity to see some kickass dancing, but because Asian Americans dancers have been seriously representing since the very first audition episode.

JabbaWockeeZ, whose name is derived from the Lewis Carroll poem "Jabberwocky," took the show's crown in season one, and are known for precise, intricate synchronization and their signature white gloves and masks. Members include Jeff Nguyen, Rynan Shawn Paguio, Ben Chung, Kevin Brewer, Phil Tayag and Chris Gatdula.

Season two winners Super Cr3w are known for their acrobatic power moves and show-stopping theatrics. Members include Mike "Murda" Carrasco, Angelito "Vex" Casal, Jon "Do-Knock" Cruz, Abenamar "Ben" Honrubia, Ronnie "Ronnieboy" Abaldonado and R.J. "Rockadile" Puno.

Season three winners Quest Crew hold the distinction of being the first all-Asian American crew to take the title of America's Best Dance Crew. Founded in 2003, its members, known for their crazy hairstyles, include Ryan Conferido, Hokuto "Hok" Konishi, Brian Hirano, Victor Kim, Stev Terada, Ryan Feng and Dominic "D-Trix" Sandoval.

But it's not just about the champions. This is really about the entire ABDC phenomenon, and how the show has unexpectedly become a showcase for Asian American dancers to shine, front and center, on MTV -- arguably the flagship television network for popular American youth culture.

Much props to crews like Beat Freaks, SoReal Cru, Fanny Pak, Kaba Modern and Fysh N Chicks, among many others -- they all had Asian American dancers within their ranks. Sure, it's just another TV dance show. You can dismiss it all you want. But these guys are changing media perceptions for future generations, literally, with leaps and bounds.

See the rest of the 30 Most Influential Asian Americans Under 30 here.

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