sing for china: fight aids with art

The Sing For China Tour will bring three of China's "biggest and best" indie rock bands -- Hedgehog, Queen Sea Big Shark and Casino Demon -- to the U.S. in September as part of an unprecedented effort by the Chinese music community to help children orphaned by AIDS in China.

The tour is being produced by Modern Sky Records of Beijing, China's largest independent record label. All proceeds from the artists' share of performance ticket sales/fees will be presented to China AIDS Orphan Fund in the form of a donation. For the full list of tour dates, go here.

To be honest, I've never heard of any these bands, so I can't tell you if they're any good. But I do know that the staggering number of children orphaned by HIV/AIDS is a serious problem in China, so the tour's efforts are going towards a worthy cause. Check the schedule and see if you can make it out.

attorney jerry tao makes sen. reid's list for federal judge

Just saw this interesting bit of news on the Asian American Action Fund blog. Senate Majority Harry Reid recently named Jerry Tao for his short list for federal judge. If nominated and confirmed, Tao will become the first Asian American judge in Nevada's history. This is a big deal.

Asian Americans have made huge strides in the field of law, but we're seriously underrepresented in the judiciary. As AAA-Fund points out, less than 1 percent of federal judges are Asian American -- even though Asian Americans have been the fastest growing group of lawyers over the past decade.

That's why they're calling on you to make your voice heard. You can contact Senator Reid and ask him to recommend Jerry Tao for federal judge. You can call Leader Reid's Las Vegas office at 702.388.5020. You can also call his D.C. office at 202.224.3542. Here's some background on Jerry Tao:
In nearly 20 years, Jerry Tao has amassed a formidable resume worthy of a federal judge. His impeccable record of representing clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to death row murderers to immigrants seeking recourse for civil rights violations has garnered bipartisan respect.

As a Clark County Deputy Assistant Attorney, Jerry has led hundreds of prosecutions, first-chairing more than 60 criminal felonies and misdemeanors, including cases within the domestic violence division. What's more, he has published important law review articles on patent law. Finally, he brings impeccable legislative credentials, having served as Leader Reid's Chief Speechwriter and Legislative Assistant.

Jerry Tao has been a role model in our community and a tremendous public servant for Nevada.
If Jerry Tao is selected, Senator Reid will ask President Obama to nominate him to the federal bench. Once nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate, federal judges have lifetime tenure on the bench. That means they can serve as a judge for the rest of their life. More here: Call Sen. Reid, Help Jerry Tao.

win dawen's american me cd

Okay, music fans. In anticipation of next week's release of debut album American Me, Dawen has generously donated a bunch of autographed CDs to give away to you, the good readers of this blog. Three lucky readers will win a copy of American Me, which drops digitally on Wednesday, September 9, with CDs available on Saturday, September 12.

To enter for your chance to win, answer a simple question. A few weeks ago, I posted Dawen's music video for "Wake Up." Name one of the other song covers Dawen has posted on YouTube. (Hint: go to YouTube.)

Email me your answers, along with your name and mailing address, by the end of Friday, September 4. Be sure to include "DAWEN CD" in the subject line. Entries that do not follow these simple instructions will be thrown out, because entries that do not follow simple instructions are the entries of fools. I'll throw all the correct entries in a hat and pick three winners at random.

To learn more about Dawen and his music, visit his official website, become a fan on Facebook, and subscribe to his YouTube channel. And if you're in Los Angeles, be sure to mark your calendars on September 12 for Dawen's official American Me CD release party at Dakota Lounge.

drunken racist restaurant tirade ends in car wreck

In Scottsdale, Arizona, a drunk-ass jerk drove over an hour away from his house to a Chinese restaurant, where he went into a tirade, yelling obscenities and racial slurs at employees, then rammed his truck into several police cars: Man terrorizes PD, Scottsdale restaurant in drunken tirade.

Last week, 31-year-old Erin Bryant walked into a Jade Palace and began insulting and assaulting employees at the restaurant. And the whole thing was caught on tape by a customer filming with his iPhone: Tirade At Jade Palace Restaurant Caught On Camera.
In the video, Bryant can be seen pushing and shoving employees. He also was shouting extremely racially insensitive comments, even making death threats.

In fact, at one point, he charged an employee screaming, "I'll break every Chinese bone you've got in your body, mother (expletive)."

He continued, "This is America, not China America. I'm going to (expletive) you up."
That's racist! After about twenty minutes, he finally left, but not before causing more havoc in the parking lot. According to authorities, while trying to flee, Bryant smashed his Ford F-250 into three different police cars and two other vehicles. Eventually, a police SUV pinned his truck and officers had to use a taser before his arrest.

Luckily, nobody was injured. Bryant faces 12 felony charges, including assault, felony assault, threatening, disorderly conduct, DUI, aggravated DUI, endangerment, and driving with a suspended license. More here: Man's Drunken Tirade at Scottsdale Restaurant Caught on Camera.

the men of white on rice: james kyson lee

The indie comedy White on Rice is coming to a theater near you, starting September 11 in Los Angeles and Orange County. To celebrate, we'll be profiling the movie's cast, who answered a couple of questions. Meet James Kyson Lee, who plays Tim.

Describe your character in White on Rice.
Tim Kim is an aspiring guitarist/singer who wants to escape his corporate life to pursue his true passion: music. As Jimmy's friend and co-worker, Tim tries to help out Jimmy's lack of romantic life by introducing him to potential dates.

When Tim reconnects with his high school sweetheart Ramona, he unknowingly becomes Jimmy's biggest rival in a bizarre love-triangle.

What's your favorite behind-the-scenes moment?
My first day in Salt Lake City, we all went to a music store, and I bought my first acoustic guitar - an Ibanez. For the duration of the shoot, i slept with it, made love to it, carried it with me everywhere, and attempted to write incomplete songs in my hotel room & trailer.

Because my character was loosely based on a real person - Tim Koides, a very talented musician - I spent some time hanging with the real Tim, getting guitar lessons. Three days later, we were on stage together with a band playing his song, dressed up as Quaker Oats Man and Uncle Sam.

What was your last Halloween costume?
I was a Lucent Dossier - inspired by the carnivale-cirque group that performs at the Edison on Wednesday evenings.

What makes you laugh?
Awkward human interactions, odd facial expressions. The Office, 30 Rock and Flight of the Concords.

What makes you angry?
Narrow mindedness, people who complain all the time, smelly bathrooms.

secret identities superhero contest winner: wildstyle

And now, the third winning entry from the Secret Identities Superhero Contest, where readers were asked to submit their own original idea for an Asian American superhero. This one, WILDSTYLE by Tiffany Namwong, received a special honor as our first-day contest winner. Here it is, as rendered by artist A.L. Baroza.


We already commented on Tiffany Namwong's Wildstyle--and we were particularly delighted to meet her in person at San Diego Comic-Con, where she made good use of the free registration she won in our special first-day mini-contest. As we looked at the other entries, we thought that Tiffany's hero was certainly one of the top three entries overall--but for fairness's sake, we decided to add a fourth winner as well, since Tiffany already got her own copy of SI signed by a horde of contribs at SDCC.

Anyway, for those who missed the original synopsis of Tiffany's hero, which won her a free registration for SDCC, here it is again--as well as A.L. Baroza's awesome visualization of the young Thai tattoo artist. I had the privilege of working with Aldin on the SI story "A Day at CostumeCo," and he brings the same visual flair and painstaking attention to detail to Tiffany's character--even including Wildstyle's demonic nemesis Maya and a horde of uglies to complete the tableau. Thanks, Tiffany and A.L.!


Wildstyle by Tiffany Namwong

Ratana Nantakarn is a teenaged Thai American girl, born into a struggling immigrant family, raised by television and saved from drug addiction by the only adult who's been able to win over her trust: A Buddhist monk who encourages her nascent artistic skills, and helps her gain admission to a prestigious art academy. But after her mentor's work with at-risk youth leads to run-ins with the "connected" local drug syndicate, an anonymous tip leads INS to revoke the monk's visa and deport him back to Thailand. An enraged Ratana drops out of school, returning to the streets to try to find the thugs responsible for her mentor's plight. In doing so, she finds another outlet for her artistic sensibilities, becoming the queen of the Los Angeles tagging scene. Ratana with a spray can on a dimly lit street is like a tiger in the jungle; she uses her artistic skills to feed her ego, but to feed herself she turns to petty crime, and soon falls back into the rabbit-hole of addiction.

Meanwhile, realizing that Ratana is on their trail, the same gangsters who arranged for her mentor's disappearance decide to remove her from the equation as well. She escapes to Thailand after scamming an elderly man looking for a young escort for his summer vacation. She succeeds in locating her old teacher, too late to reconnect with him: He'd been working with a local charity continuing his work with troubled youth, but recently passed away of cancer.

Arjun Gautama, a young Indian American man who has spent the summer volunteering for the charity, tells her that the monk asked for her in his final moments, and gives her his ashes. Ratana takes them to the monk's ancestral village hoping to find a suitable resting place for his remains. Instead, she finds a wrecked and empty hamlet, destroyed by drug lords, whose only surviving structure is the old, abandoned temple in which the monk once served.

In a fit of self-hatred and a desire to vent her frustrations over the fact that her mentor died without anyone to care for him or provide for his final respects, she impulsively pulls out her spray can and desecrates the shrine.

But the temple is not entirely empty: The holy place's long-forgotten guardian spirit rises up out of its altar, calling forth a curse on the blaspheming human invader. Her life and soul are forfeit for her crime, and all seems lost - until the spirit of the old monk rises out of his ashes, and bids the guardian to hold.

The sin Ratana has committed cannot simply be forgiven. But the monk asks that she be given the opportunity - and the power - to earn that forgiveness, using her talent to redeem the crime she committed with that talent.

A great evil, the demon Maya, is attempting to build a dominion on Earth, having taken human form as a pop idol on the verge of superstardom, and enslaving youths with the addictive combination of her music and a devastating new drug.

To defeat Maya and her army of followers, Ratana is given the ability to bring her art to life...using human canvases: She must seek out and befriend a series of youths who are ripe to become "vessels" for Ratana's power. Once these men and women have willingly made the decision to accept the burden, Ratana tattoos their backs the image of a creature and a holy mantra that transforms them into that creature - irrevocably, until Maya is destroyed.

Ratana's mission takes her and Arjun - whose friendship she increasingly grows to depend on, until it evolves into something more - to Hong Kong, Seoul, Tokyo, and finally back to Los Angeles, seeking out new allies, while pursuing Maya and battling her host of demons, hoping to simultaneously save the world and put her own personal demons to rest.

america's best dance crew season four: week 4

I've got to say, while I kind of hated last week's martial arts theme, I generally really enjoyed the choreography in this week's Bollywood challenge (granted, I know next to nothing about traditional Indian dance). But overall, it felt a little silly. Is it me, or is ABDC making up for the sudden drop in Asian crew representation with these odd Asian-themed challenges?

After last week's beat down from the judges, I think the crews delivered solid performances across the board this time. In the end, it was We Are Heroes and Beat Ya Feet Kings on the chopping block... and the ladies of We Are Heroes prevailed! Hiroka and Mami will go on to dance another week.

byeong-hun an is u.s. amateur's youngest champion

On Sunday, 17-year-old golfer Byeong-Hun An defeated a field of top college players to become the youngest champion in U.S. Amateur history: US Amateur champ is youngest ever - again - at 17.

An, who was born in South Korea and is currently a high school student in Florida, defeated Clemson senior Ben Martin 7 and 5 in the 36-hole final yesterday at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Yet another youngest champ! An, who turns 18 on September 17, is about a month and a half younger than Danny Lee was when he broke Tiger Woods' record last year to become the U.S. Amateur's youngest champion.

The kid's got competition in his blood. Byeong-hun is the son of An Jae-hyung and Jiao Zhimin, both Olympic medalists in table tennis in the 1988 Seoul games: Teenage Golf Star Is the Son of Ping-Pong Champions.

After taking the trophy, he apparently celebrated in the clubhouse with a Shirley Temple. Champagne will have to wait for a couple of years. That is, until the next youngest champion comes along.


nissin's oriental master shows you the way of chow mein

I've been hearing from a bunch of folks over the last couple of days about this commercial for Nissin's Chow Mein dish, featuring a weird animated Wise Asian Guru caricature, complete with Kwai Chang Caine accent and gong sound effect accents. And armed with a set of chopsticks.

Is this really surprising? This is just the latest example of racial stereotypes in advertising -- naturally, what better way to sell bad instant "Asian" food than with a two-foot high Oriental master dude. That's racist!

lazy link roundup

Kamala Harris adds another feather to her cap: San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris -- who is running for state attorney general -- has a forthcoming book, Smart on Crime: A Career Prosecutor's Plan to Make Us Safer, co-authored by journalist Joan O'C. Hamilton.

Obamas' Filipina chef: 'They like simple food': Cristeta Pasia-Comerford, the first woman and first minority to serve as the executive chef in the White House, was recently honored by the Bank of the Philippines as an "outstanding Filipino overseas."

Old Faith Innovates in a New Land: In Flushing, the newly formed Hindu choir at Ganesha Temple recently gave their debut performance on the first day of the festival dedicated to Ganesha, the elephant-headed god.

The Printer's Son: This is a great story in Los Angeles magazine about a guy named Charlie Chan -- yes, his real name -- who built a successful chain of printing shops that later unexpectedly became a true family business.

A Long Road to Television: The New York Times has a profile on the career of television exec Andrea Wong, in her own words, talking about her path to becoming the current chief at Lifetime Networks.

Guest blogger: Confessions of a Hollywood usher: Over on Pop Candy, an usher at the ArcLight in Hollywood recounts the weird-but-loveable Charlyne Yi's brief stint as a crew member at the movie theater -- right around the time when her own film Paper Heart was released.

K-Pop Uncovered: Don't know Wonder Girls from Wonder Bread? MTV Iggy's got you covered with an exclusive, in-depth special report on the K-pop scene -- "a naked look at Korea's massive money-making music machine."


in theaters: ang lee's taking woodstock

Taking Woodstock, the latest film from Academy Award-winning director Ang Lee, opens in theaters everywhere today. The movie tells the story of the people and events that inadvertently set in motion the generation-defining concert in the summer of 1969. It's been getting mixed reviews, but I'm looking forward to seeing it... eventually.

If there's one thing you can say about Ang Lee's career, it's that he's never let himself get pigeonholed as a director who makes a specific kind of movie. Each film is completely different from the last. To learn more about the movie, visit the Taking Woodstock website here.

booboo stewart is seth clearwater in the new twilight movie

I do not understand the Twilight phenomenon, but also fully realize that I'm probably not a part the core demographic that made it the enormously popular book/movie series that it's become. This is a speeding train that's going to pass me by, and I'm totally okay with that.

Anyway, last week, Summit Entertainment announced that 15-year-old BooBoo Stewart has been cast as Seth Clearwater in the third movie The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, to be released next summer: Julia Jones Cast as Leah Clearwater and BooBoo Stewart Cast as Seth Clearwater in Eclipse.

BooBoo, who has a ridiculous name -- but hey, that's his journey -- is reportedly of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Russian and Native American ancestry. He's a former member of Disney's T Squad(?), and has a bunch of TV and movie credits under his belt. Have fun being a werewolf, kid.

this week in vietnamese sandwiches

The now-famous Kogi Truck, which feeds the Los Angeles area with its special fusion of Korean-flavored tacos, kicked off a food truck trend and has inspired a wave of meals-on-wheels novelties, including at least one blatant knockoff (yeah, I'm talking about you, Calbi).

The latest mobile food venture to hit the road: Nom Nom Truck, serving up banh mi -- Vietnamese sandwiches -- to the hungry kids of L.A. The truck reportedly had its official launch this week, drawing a huge crowd getting their "nom" on. Check out their website here and follow Nom Nom on Twitter here.

In other banh mi news, a war is brewing in New York. When Hanco's opened on Seventh Avenue back in February, it was the only banh mi joint in the neighborhood. But last week, Henry's set up shop just four blocks away -- and appears to have made no attempt to distinguish itself from Hanco's: Banh Mi Beef: Hanco's Accuses Henry's of Foul Play.

According to Hanco's owner Hanco Tang, the owners of Henry's are former employees who left his store in the past two weeks -- he fired one, and the other one quit days later. Tang had no idea that they were setting up shop down the street... and apparently stealing all his ideas, from the looks of it. Shady.

According to the article, they were also engaging in some sneaky sandwich sabotage while working at Hanco's -- putting cold meat in the bread without heating up, putting extra mayo (what?!) and even attempting to recruit one of Tang's sandwich makers, unsuccessfully. They did manage to steal away a bubble tea barista. Bastards. But that's the cutthroat world of banh mi, baby.

"authentic asian canine cuisine"

Some weird news out of the Toronto area about some freak with too much time on his hands printing up joke menus for a fictional restaurant serving up "authentic Asian canine cuisine" and leaving them around a dog park as a joke: Dog menu leaves bad taste.

The menus for the non-existent Dog Liver Cafe are the work of a retired architect named Mel Glickman, who says he's "just poking fun at Asians eating dog meat." He printed up about a hundred menu flyers and started posting them and handing them out to dog owners in his neighborhood.

The guy sounds like a bit of a weirdo, and really starving for attention. He admits himself that he has a lot of time on his hands. I guess the sad sack just got bored and decided to offend everyone in the neighborhood. Well, he got what he wanted -- everyone is talking about the Crazy Dog Menu Guy. More here: Prankster's pooch menu no joke for dog lovers.

angry reader of the week: joyce kim

Time to meet another 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 Angry Reader is Joyce Kim, CEO of Soompi.com.

last call: nominate your school for the best colleges and universities for aapi student activism

All right. Final call. This is your last chance to submit your school for our list of the Best Colleges and Universities for AAPI Student Activism. I've teamed up with Asian Pacific Americans for Progress to put together a special list, to be unveiled next month.

The list will highlight the best post-secondary, bachelor's degree-granting (liberal arts colleges, universities, etc.) for or you, the AAPI student who is interested in learning about and contributing toward the advancement of AAPI communities!

If you think your campus community has what it takes, and is a great place for AAPI students to earn their bachelor's degrees and to cut their teeth as progressive community leaders, fill out the nomination form and submit your school by the end of today.

gamble away your money, and get mocked while doing it

Got these photo gems from a sharp-eyed reader named Leo, who spotted "Mr. Lucky Fortune Cookie," an actual slot machine, at the casino on a recent Royal Caribbean cruise.

As you can see, it features an Asian dude in a chef's hat, along with all sorts of stereotypical imagery. Unfortunately, Leo wasn't able to record video -- the machine apparently makes sounds and talks in a mock Chinese accent.

Wow, not only can this slot machine take money from gambling-addicted Asians, it will actually mock you while doing it! That's racist!

"too tall" chinese basketball player sparks fan riot

Want to start a riot in China? Allow a tall guy to play in the short players' league. You'll have people taking to the streets and smashing up cars in no time. It happened this week in Guandong: "Too tall" player sparks fan violence.

The Dream Basketball League was set up to allow players of "shorter" stature to compete on a level playing field, with a height limit of 6 feet 2 inches (1.88 meters) imposed. Hey, short people like to play ball too.

However, trouble was brewing when Huizhou Qiaoxing signed Chinese Basketball Association player and three-times national 'slam dunk' champion Hu Guang, even though his official CBA profile lists him as 1.95m.

Oh hell no. On Monday, Huizhou's opponents on the Shenzhen Kuruite refused to take to the court unless Hu was measured, but league organizers refused. Shenzhen forfeited the game, but the complaints got so bad, the league finally agreed to measure Hu's height.

According to one player, when they took the tape to the 27-year-old forward, he "bowed his shoulders and bent his neck back." The first result was 186.5 cm, and the second time was 187 cm. League officials declared Hu eligible to play in the "monthly final" against Zheshang Bank.

And that's when the rioting started. Furious Shenzhen fans disrupted the match by continually changing "Unfair! Too tall!" and the game, which was being broadcast on live television was abandoned at halftime.

Outside the arena, other spectators who were upset that the game had been stopped reportedly smashed up cars with Shenzhen license plates. Don't tell me the Chinese aren't serious about their basketball. Don't mess.


just another day in the office

Fans of Quest Crew will want to check this out... It's a cool little video of three guys raising a ruckus in the office, featuring Di "Moon" Zhang, Hokuto "Hok" Konishi and Phillip "PacMan" Chbeep. Conceived and filmed in just three days, it's decidedly lo-fi and do-it-yourself, but the choreography is pretty damn hot.

philadelphia asian american film festival: official lineup

Philadelphia! This one's for you. The second annual Philadelphia Asian Amerian Film Festival, happening October 9-11, has announced its official lineup of films, and it's looking pretty good. Here's the full rundown:

Opening Night FilmChildren of Invention Tze Chun
Centerpiece PresentationFormosa Betrayed Will Tiao
Closing Night FilmStory of Wine Cheol-ha Lee

Karma Calling Sarba Das
Second Moon Masahiro Sugano
Why Am I Doing This? Tom Huang

Operation Babylift Tammy Nguyen Lee
A Song For Ourselves Tadashi Nakamura
Sounds of New Hope Eric Tandoc
A Village Called Versailles S. Leo Chiang
Whatever It Takes Christopher Wong

Blood Colony Jacob Holcomb
Boba and Melon Gum Alice Park
Cotabato City Karen Lin
Evolution Kenji Lui
Fine Threads Adele Pham
Fortune Cooking Jason Karman
Half Kenneth Ken Ochiai
The Humberville Poetry Slam Emily Chang
I Don't Sleep I Dream J.P. Chan
Imprint Tim Hsieh
In Search of Colors Will Kim
Interpretation Lin Oeding
Let Old Ghosts Rest Gregory Cooke
The Letter Kris Mendoza
Lui Lui in America Vera Wing Lui
Manoj Hari Kondabolu
Memory Block Hari Alluri
Motoo Bao Nguyen & Adele Pham
Mr. Cupcakes Angela Chen
Pho Dac Biet Christina Tran
Plan B Kaidy Kuna
Seen Unseen Sara Suleman
Subconscious Jason Chen
Survivors Soham Mehta
Tatang Jean "Nico" Paolo
The Veiled Commodity Vinh Dickson
Wake Up Dawen Wang

PAAFF is only in its second year, but they've put together a really solid program. That's a nice mix of features narratives, documentaries and shorts. I've seen a lot of these films, and they represent some of the most interesting work going on right now in Asian American cinema. For the full schedule and ticketing, check back soon at the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival website here.

mike shinoda's "glorious excess (dies)" at janm

This is for all you Linkin Park fans in Los Angeles... Following his highly-successful 2008 show, Glorious Excess (Born), Mike Shinoda returns to the Japanese American National Museum to unveil his latest collection of paintings and digital works.

Glorious Excess (Dies) is the next chapter in his series exploring society's obsession with celebrity culture, consumer addiction, and fascination with excess. Things kick off this weekend with a public signing, as well as a private event for JANM members:
Public Opening and Signing with Mike Shinoda
Free Admission
8 - 10 PM

Help us celebrate the opening of Mike Shinoda Glorious Excess (Dies).

Mike Shinoda will be signing from 8 to 10 PM

Please Note:
* No RSVPs accepted
* Admission based on a first come, first served basis
* Maximum occupancy will be strictly enforced

FOR MEMBERS ONLY: A Conversation with Mike Shinoda

$40.00 per person
2:00 PM

Join other JANM members for this special and intimate event as he discusses Glorious Excess and engages in a dialogue about his art. Signing to follow.

This ticketed event is open to Japanese American National Museum members only. Tickets will go on sale on-line only Tuesday, August 18, 2009, at 10:00 AM, PST. Limit two tickets per membership; space is limited.

The exhibition runs August 30 - October 4 at the Japanese American National Museum in Little Tokyo. To learn more about Glorious Excess (Dies), go to the JANM website here. To purchase tickets for Sunday's members-only talk with Mike Shinoda, go here.

there are more slaves today than any time in human history

With the long list of problems plaguing our world, at least we can say we've eliminated slavery. Right? Think again. The headline pretty much says it all: There Are More Slaves Today Than at Any Time in Human History.

One hundred forty-three years after passage of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and 60 years after Article 4 of the U.N.'s Universal Declaration of Human Rights banned slavery and the slave trade worldwide, there are more slaves than at any time in human history -- an estimated 27 million.

That is insane. Globally, the highest concentrations of the slave trade are in South Asia -- India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan. There possibly more slaves in India than the rest of the world combined, but the problem is often simply dismissed as poverty and "exploitative labor practices."

Read this interview with Benjamin Skinner, an investigative journalist who researched modern-day slavery for four years, posing as a buyer at illegal brothels and interviewing convicted human traffickers. His first book, A Crime So Monstrous: Face-to-Face with Modern-Day Slavery, is available in paperback.

nip/tuck promo's super sexy asian sweatshop

What the hell is up with all the Asian imagery in this promo for the upcoming sixth season of Nip/Tuck? If you're not familiar with the show, it's about a duo of plastic surgeons and the sometimes grotesque surgeries they perform.

Many thanks to Daniela, who spotted this and points out the "short black wigs, cheongsam-inspired red dresses, heavily made-up eyelids and chopsticks-in-hair who are sewing, assembly-line style, the 'perfect body.'"

Basically, a super-sexualized Asian sweatshop. It all adds up. Most of the women in the promo aren't even Asian -- they're just made to look like they are. The woman in white at the head of the table is certainly Asian.

Make no mistake -- they're definitely trying to evoke a stereotypical sweatshop, where the "China Doll" labor is submissive, identical and disposable. That's racist! And tasteless, considering the thousands who toil away in actual sweatshops.

If you feel like letting the network know how you feel about this commercial, you can email FX at user@fxnetworks.com (the generic contact listed on the website). Chances are, they could probably care less. But it's a start.

hiroyuki sanada joins the cast of lost

It's been a loooong summer since the Lost season five finale. And we've still got a long way to go until the premiere of season six. In the meantime, here's an interesting bit of casting news... Japanese actor Hiroyuki Sanada will be joining the cast of Lost in an undetermined but important role: 'Lost' exclusive: Japanese superstar Hiroyuki Sanada lands 'significant' role.

Who's he playing? Nobody really knows. Hell, given the nature of last season's insane-ass cliffhanger, and all the wild and crazy places this show takes you, he really could be anyone. You could tell me he's the magical shape-shifting human form of Vincent the dog, and I'd half believe you. Here's one person's theory:
"My prediction... is that he will play a mystical mystery man who serves as John Locke's Obi-Wan-meets-Mr. Miyagi in the post-Jughead rebooted Lost timeline. Attuned to The Island's magic -- perhaps an embodiment of The Island itself -- Hiroyuki's character will help the amnesiac Locke rediscover his destiny to become The Island knight/protector and guide him back, even as dark forces conspire to stop Locke and the rest of the castaways from going back."
That sounds cool to me -- and a good as guess as any. You might recognize Sanada from Hollywood roles in movies like The Last Samurai and Rush Hour 3. I was particularly fond of him as Kaneda in Danny Boyle's sci-fi thriller Sunshine. He's a good actor, and in my book, it's always great to see yet another Asian face on Lost. Season six premieres sometime next year.

photoshop fail: microsoft's polish site

Microsoft apparently believes a smiling white man is more marketable than a black man... in Poland. I know a lot of you got a big kick out of this ridiculous Photoshop Fail with the random Asian kid pasted into the smiley Caucasian family. This Microsoft ad takes it to a whole other level of fail.

In the original image, you've got an Asian guy, a Black guy, and a white lady. However, on Microsoft's Business Productivity page in Poland, the Black gentleman's head has been swapped out with a smilin' white dude: Microsoft Poland Demonstrates Hilariously Bad Photoshop Skills.

Do note that it's just his head that's been Photoshopped. They didn't even bother switching out the dude's hand! You've got a Caucasian face with a black man's hand. Silly. Dude, if you don't want any Black people in your photo, just use another photo. This is embarrassing.

Should I just be happy that the Asian guy was deemed Polish-safe, and not Photoshopped out completely?

Now that this thing has been buzzing around the web, Microsoft has changed the Poland page with the original image. They've also issued an apology for the image: Microsoft apologizes for changing race in photo. Yeah, somebody's getting fired.

saldef rejects michigan ban on religious headcoverings

Yesterday, the SALDEF, the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund, sent a letter urging Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm to condemn a new rule authorizing Michigan judges to force witnesses to remove religious headcoverings in court:
August 26, 2009

Governor Jennifer M. Granholm
P.O. Box 30013
Lansing, Michigan 48909

Re: Accommodation of Religious and Medical Headcoverings in Michigan Courtrooms

Dear Governor Granholm:

I am writing on behalf of the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF) to express grave concern about reports that observant Sikh Americans may now be required to remove their religiously-mandated dastaars (turbans) before entering courtrooms in Michigan.

Founded in 1996, SALDEF is the oldest Sikh American civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States. The Sikh religion was founded in South Asia over 500 years ago and is the fifth largest world religion, with more than 25 million followers worldwide and approximately 500,000 adherents in the United States. Observant Sikhs are distinguished by dastaars and other articles of faith and are regrettably subjected to hate crimes, workplace discrimination, and school bullying because of their actual or perceived ethnicity, religion, and national origin.

Our understanding is that the Michigan Supreme Court recently approved a rule of evidence that gives courtroom judges the authority to regulate witness attire, including religious headcoverings. Although we acknowledge the need for witnesses to be seen when they provide testimony, there is no compelling justification for any judge to force an observant Sikh to remove a dastaar in a courtroom. Indeed, dastaars are worn daily as a matter of religious obligation and do not cover or conceal the face.

In light of these developments, we hope that you will urge the Michigan legislature to enact legislation that safeguards fundamental civil rights for individuals in your state who are required by their respective faiths to wear religious headcoverings. In the meantime, we will alert our constituents in Michigan to this matter, ask them to be vigilant, and refer any complaints that we receive to the U.S. Department of Justice.


Rajdeep Singh Jolly
Director of Law and Policy
The Michigan Supreme Court recently approved a rule of evidence that gives courtroom judges broad authority to regulate witness attire, including religious headcoverings. The concern is that observant Sikhs would be force to remove their religiously-mandated dastaars (turbans) in Michigan courtrooms.

There's really no compelling justification for any judge to force an observant Sikh to remove his dastaar in a courtroom. The headcoverings are worn daily as a matter of religious obligation, and don't cover or conceal the face. To read the full press release, with further related background links on the matter, visit SALDEF's website here.


theatreworks presents david henry hwang's yellow face

Hey, Bay Area! Some Asian American theater for you... TheatreWorks presents Yellow Face by David Henry Hwang, now playing at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts through September 20. Some info:

By David Henry Hwang
Regional Premiere

Tickets: $24 (student) – $62
Does not include $2 convenience fee for online or phone orders.

A revealing backstage comedy from the Tony Award-winning author of M Butterfly, this ferociously funny, utterly unreliable memoir chronicles David Henry Hwang's struggle to define racial identity in the mixed-up melting pot of contemporary America. Part fact, part fiction, provocative yet full of heart, this Obie Award winner is a tale of cultural politics, family fortunes, and artistic integrity, an insightful look at the pitfalls and promise of our "P.C." world. Broadway star Francis Jue recreates his award-winning performance. Contains mature language.

August 26–September 20, 2009
Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts

"How TheatreWorks" pre-show discussion with Yellow Face designers Fumiko Bielefeldt and J.B. Wilson, Thursday, August 27 at 6:30, MVCPA balcony. Look for signage!
I haven't had a chance to see this play yet, but from everything I've heard, it's a fascinating and provocative semi-autobiographical rumination on racial identity and artist integrity. For more information on the production, and to purchase tickets, visit the TheatreWorks website here.

the little league world series' first girl gamewinner

A girl playing in the Little League World Series? Yes. Hell yes. Not only can girls play in the World Series, one of them is winning games for her country: Katie Reyes becomes first girl gamewinner at Little League WS.

In what tournament organizers said was most likely a LLWS first, 13-year-old Katie Reyes hit a game-winning two-RBI single in Canada's 14-13 win over Germany on Tuesday in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

Fifteen girls have played in the LLWS since 1984, but apparently none had logged the game's top highlight until Reyes had three hits and three RBIs on Tuesday. She also caught the game's final out at first base.

Reyes began playing baseball about six years ago after watching her brother, and she's never played softball. And now she's kicking ass for Canada. More on yesterday's game: Canada gets wild 14-13 win over Germany at LLWS.

music video: "pushed aside, pulled apart" by lyrics born

Check out the music video fro "Pushed Aside, Pulled Apart" by Lyrics Born feat. Lateef the Truthspeaker. Very trippy. You can actually download a free mp3 of the track over at Lyrics Born's website here. It's the latest single from LB's forthcoming album As U Were, dropping early next year. Can't wait.

12-year-old charged in attack on asian canadian fisherman

Remember all the posts about "nippertipping" from a few years back? Out of Canada, we heard a string of reports about racial assaults, mischief and thefts against Asian Canadian fishermen -- some resulting in serious injury. More here.

The local youth apparently call it "nippertipping" when they drive around in the middle of the night looking for cars parked near the water, then creep up behind fishermen and shove them into the lake. All in good fun? No. That's racist!

Here's news on another such incident, and this time, they've caught the kid who did it -- a 12-year-old boy who is accused of pushing a fisherman into the water in Kawartha Lakes: Boy, 12, charged with pushing Asian angler.

According to police, a 46-year-old Asian Canadian man was fishing with his family from a bridge on Canal Lake when the the boy came up from behind and pushed him into the water. The boy was found by police and charged with assault, and is scheduled to appear in court on September 22.

Twelve freaking years old? Ridiculous. Police say he hasn't been charged with a hate crime, but the matter is still under investigation, with assistance from the OPP Hate Crimes/Extremism unit. More here: Youth charged in attack on Asian-Canadian angler.

hellen jo nominated for ignatz award

Just heard that Hellen Jo, the San Francisco-based comic artist behind Jin & Jam, has been nominated for a 2009 Ignatz Award for "Promising New Talent."

If you haven't seen her work, it's kind of awesome and a little bit twisted. Great stuff. The Ignatz Awards will be presented next month at the 15th Annual Small Press Expo in Maryland.

what is your "starting six" for asian american cinema?

Our friend Oliver Wang, who runs the Asian American cinema blog Chasing Chan (among many other endeavors), has put together a list of his Starting Six -- basically, six films that he'd recommend to any newcomer of Asian American cinema, as part of an "Asian American film canon." His six:

1. Chan Is Missing, dir. Wayne Wang, 1982.
2. Eat a Bowl of Tea, dir. Wayne Wang, 1989.
3. Terminal U.S.A., dir. Jon Moritsugu, 1993
4. Better Luck Tomorrow, dir. Justin Lin, 2002.
5. Cavite, dir. Neill Dela Llana & Ian Gamazon, 2005
6. In Between Days, dir. So Yong Kim

Be sure to read his annotations. It's not supposed to be a definitive list, but a useful starting point. And with more and more Asian Amerian films gaining distribution, and sources like Netflix making it easier to access all kinds of titles, there are now plenty of ways for people everywhere to experience Asian American cinema.

Oliver's asked me to submit my own Six, which I'm looking forward to doing. I'm still formulating the list in my head, but it definitely includes a few of the one's he's already named. He's also asking for your input -- what's your Starting Six? Send your suggestions to oliverwang AT gmail.com.

damn. I need to hit the gym.

Witnessed some minor madness on the internets yesterday when the girls of Disgrasian selected this guy and his strategically placed jacket for their weekly "Babewatch" feature (that's actually a cropped photo above). A Facebook freak-out ensued, eliciting comments like "OH MY GOD," "Sweet Jebus," and "Holy horses--t he's hotter than hammered hell."

This finely sculpted man is Daniel Liu, who recently signed a contract with Ford Models and can be seen in the upcoming Uniqlo fall/winter campaign. He also happens to be the cousin of our friend Joz over at 8Asians. She blogged about him earlier this month: Introducing Daniel Liu: Asian Male Model (and My "Little" Cousin).

Craziness. I'm serious -- one lady friend I sent his photo link to simply responded with "OMG OMG OMG" over and over again. With so much fuss over her cousin, Joz followed up by posting some more photos. Enjoy: More of my cousin, Daniel Liu (or maybe a little too much!)

japan's new mcdonald's mascot: a geeky white guy!

In Japan, the McDonald's marketing campaign is apparently drawing criticism from the country's foreign-born population. This has been getting some interesting play on the blogs, but I didn't feel particularly compelled to write about it because, frankly, I'm less than sympathetic about their plight. But it's been getting some mainstream attention, so here goes...

What's got them unnerved is Mr. James, a geeky, bespectacled white guy who speaks mangled Japanese, and is the star of the latest McDonald's ad campaign for its new burger line, the "Nippon All Stars": Not Everyone Is Lovin' Japan's New McDonald's Mascot.

Mr. James, dressed in a buttoned-up red polo shirt, tie and khakis, is described as "a 43-year-old Japanophile born in Ohio with a penchant for travel, who, when particularly excited, generously treats people he doesn't even know." Basically, he's something of a stereotype.

This is apparently offensive to some non-Japanese residents, who say the character is embarrassing, culturally ignorant, and will only make life more difficult for foreigners living and working in Japan.

Fascinating to see what it looks like when the tables are turned, isn't it? Do the Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens' Association of Japan have a point? Is Mr. James an offensive stereotype? Maybe. Probably.

I'm not going to attempt to say that Asians-making-fun-of-white-people is somehow okay because, hey, white American media sticks it to us in advertising all the time -- it's karma. No, I'm not going there (though believe me, I have been running this blog for a long time, and I have seen things).

That said, I have to ask -- how does it feel? How does it feel to suddenly be on the receiving end of an ad campaign's crappy cultural stereotype? How does it feel, for once, to have to give a shit and be offended about the way you are portrayed in the media? Yeah. It sucks, doesn't it? This one time, I mean.


aj rafael presents music speaks

This weekend in Anaheim, California, A.J. Rafael presents Music Speaks, a benefit concert for Autism Speaks. Spread over two nights, it's happening Friday, August 28 and Saturday, August 29 at the Heritage Forum.

Autism Speaks is a charity dedicated to funding global biomedical research into the causes, prevention, treatments, and cure for autism. They've got a solid lineup of performers who have come together for this great cause:
Music Speaks (Friday): Quest Crew, Gabe Bondoc, MVCC, AJ Rafael Band and more! Hosted by Timothy DeLa Ghetto and Angie Girl

Music Speaks: Unplugged (Saturday): AJ Rafael, Passion, Cathy Nguyen, JR Aquino, Jennifer Chung, Jane Lui, Melissa Polinar, Mike Isberto, and Adrian William Project.
I'm a huge fan of a lot of the names assembled here... and it's for a great cause. To purchase tickets, and for more information about the Music Speaks, including AJ Rafael's own story about why this concert is important to him, go here: AJ Rafael Presents 'Music Speaks'.

proposed asian-themed panels for sxsw 2010

I recently came a couple of interesting Asian American-themed proposals on the SXSW 2010 PanelPicker. Basically, the online community has a chance to vote and have a say in programming panels for the next South By Southwest conference in Austin. Here are two that have come to my attention:

We All Know Karate: Asian Identity in the Online Age
Asians are well-represented in technology and media, but mostly only behind the scenes. Panelists will discuss the pluses and minuses of life as a very public Asian face online, and how the internet at large deals with Asian identity.
Asians: The Silent Minority
Stereotypically known to blend into the background both personally and professionally, a significant amount of web professionals around the world are of Asian descent. How do they reconcile identity given one's history, heritage and contemporary culture? Given linguistic and cultural divides? While marketers and businesses perceive Asians as a target market, an overall sense of Asian unity has waned across the world for centuries. This panel attempts to explore the Asian web community's barriers and backgrounds, and collectively uncover intercultural nuances in both online and offline spaces. And also: "Why does everyone want to do business in China so bad?"
Click on the links to learn more about the proposals (and give your feedback). I participated in a panel at least year's conference, and we actually got in through the Panel Picker. I thought it went really well, and we had a good time, though frankly I thought there weren't nearly enough Asians among the session's attendees. What's up with that? Represent!

18-year-old japanese pitcher could play in the majors

Yusei Kikuchi is an 18-year-old Japanese pitcher who can throw a 90-plus-mile-per-hour fastball, with an insane career ahead of him... and a huge decision to make about where that career is going to take him: A Left-Hander Must Choose Between Japan and the U.S.

By October, Kikuchi must choose whether he wants to pursue playing baseball in Japan or the United States. Signing at home would rule him out of a move to the U.S. for as many as nine years. Choosing the American majors may open the door to a stream of amateurs making the leap to American baseball.

American teams have signed more than three dozen of Japan's best players since 1994, often at much higher salaries. To compensate Japanese teams, Nippon Professional Baseball madates that players with fewer than nine years experience can go to the U.S. only if their team auctions their rights.

But Kikuchi's departure would be different. As a senior at Hanamaki Higashi High School in the northern prefecture of Iwate, he isn't subject to those rules. My, how things change when we're talking about a kid with a 94mph arm. But he has to decide soon, because the Japanese draft is coming up.

what I'm listening to: oof! by blue scholars

OOF! the new six-song EP from Seattle's Blue Scholars, is now available here. You can do the basic digital download, or choose from a variety of deluxe digital/CD packages. It's sort of a warm summertime record, apparently inspired by a trip to Hawaii, where they wrote "Hi-808," and the project grew from there.

By the way, Blue Scholars last full-length album Bayani is officially out of print, but they're re-releasing it next month with new art and three previously unreleased tracks. Bayani Redux drops on September 1. Get it.

I'm listening to OOF! right now, and really enjoying it. Definitely something a bit different from the Blue Scholars you might be familiar with. Here's an recent interview Geologic did with the Seattle Times: Geo aka Geologic aka George Quibuyen from Blue Scholars. For more on Blue Scholars, visit their website here.

nigahiga takes the number one spot on youtube

You know we live in weird times when the Wall Street Journal is blogging about how YouTube star Ryan Higa, akak Nigahiga recently overtook Fred Figglehorn as the #1 most subscribed channel on YouTube. But yes, it has happened: Nigahiga Topples Fred on YouTube.

The 19-year-old from Hilo, Hawaii currently has just under 1.4 million subscribers -- about 40,000 more than Fred. If you're not familiar with "Mr. Higa," as the Wall Street Journal refers to him, his videos are a unique brand of rants, spoofs and general goofiness.

As far as I can tell, the dethroned YouTube channel champ, Fred, specializes in a lot of screaming and squeaky-voiced freak outs. I could really only watch him for about 30 seconds. Somehow, this guy was once number one.

To be honest, I've never really seen the appeal of Nigahiga's videos, but I'm pretty sure I don't fall into his audience's core demographic. But damn, 1.4 million subscribers? That's 1.4 million people voluntarily signing up to see the video antics of a goofy Asian teen. Indeed, we do live in weird times.

cute kid keeps gettin' back up!

I got a kick out of this cute-ass video that's being passed around Twitter lately, and thought I'd share it with you. Warning: it involves invisible violence.

No fair! This little kid kung fu is not quite powerful enough to fight back against the big guy's repulsor blast. But she does keep getting up for more.

Kids are so easily amused. Wait, what am I saying? I just watched this video like six times in a row. I'm the one that's easily amused.

marian liu interviews abdc's massive monkees

My reporter friend Marian Liu recently did an interview for the Seattle Times with b-boy crew Massive Monkees, who are currently competing on MTV's America's Best Dance Crew: Seattle break-dancing crew Massive Monkees compete on MTV reality show.

The interview is actually just with Brysen Angeles and JD Rainey -- two of the six-man crew currently competing on the show, who are in turn are actually part of a larger, full crew that is 25-people strong and are sort of local heroes back in Seattle.

If I had to choose right now, these guys are probably my current favorite to win. And as much as I ragged on this week's martial arts challenge, I thought Massive Monkees had one of the better routines of the night. Here's hoping they hang in there and keep it coming.

secret identities superhero contest winner: the sneak

Here's the second installment of the winning entries from the Secret Identities Superhero Contest, where readers were asked to submit their own original idea for an Asian American superhero. This is THE SNEAK by Kevin Cheung, as envisioned b Jerry Ma. Here's are all the details...


And now, The Sneak. We really liked the idea of a B-boy hero, and thought Kevin did a good job of establishing the character; the main things that we felt needed tweaking here involved tightening up the origin story (originally Richie just finds his super-powered sneakers in an alley--gotta amp up the drama a little more than that!) and shaping the powers a little. In Kevin's submission, Richie's powers involved transmuting and manipulating surrounding objects based on his emotions; we changed them to blades that project Richie's emotions into similar kinds of energy (anger generates heat, etc.). The energy blades also tie back to Richie's B-boy name, SAM or Samurai.

Meanwhile, SECRET IDENTITIES art director Jerry volunteered to bring The Sneak to life as soon as he saw the outline. Here are his own thoughts on the hero:

"As a big fan of Planet B-Boy and America's Best Dance Crew, I really wanted to draw this character—especially since I'm actually working on my own B-Boy type of comic as well right now. Unfortunately I'm NOT a graffiti artist...which should be painfully obvious here. But I thought it was necessary for the character to have a 'street' type of logo. So whenever The Sneak becomes big time, he can get a real street artist to redo that for me. Maybe my boy John Franzese (artist for the story MEET JOE in SI) would like to take a stab at that, eh? Lastly, I thought after watching Planet B-Boy again to get into the mood for this drawing, that the 'big' hair was like...necessary. And since he's dubbed 'Sam,' I thought it'd be cool if he wore one of my samurai tshirts. Hope this sketch captures what Kevin had in mind when writing up this character!"


The Sneak by Kevin Cheung

It's the early Eighties, and while the suits and labels haven't discovered it, the underground hip-hop movement is going strong. Richie Leung, an incoming freshman at the University of New York, encounters this rich new culture by accident, when he -- literally -- runs into a B-boy in performing his moves for a small crowd on the sidewalk in front of his dorm; accepting the awestruck Richie's apology, the B-boy invites him to a jam in the South Bronx, where he watches a dominating crew known as The Fresh Ones crush the competition. After the battle, he asks to join the crew and learn their moves. They reluctantly agree, giving him the B-boy name "Samurai" -- or SAM for short.

A few years later, Richie has become one of the crew's leaders, having spent all of his spare time learning, practicing and creating innovative moves. His passion has made him a master, but it's also led to his flunking out of UNY.

When his perfectionist immigrant father discovers that Richie has been spending his time dancing rather than studying, he calls his son home for an epic confrontation. During the fight, his father takes the shoes Richie removed before coming into the apartment -- at least there's one Chinese tradition Richie has continued to follow -- and hurls them out the window, telling him he's ashamed of him, and disowning him from the family. Richie tells him he doesn't care; he has a new family anyway: his brothers in the crew.

But as Richie seeks out his fellow Fresh Ones at their respective homes and hangouts, hoping for somewhere to stay -- and to borrow a fresh pair of shoes -- he's horrified to find each of them dead... murdered, without a clue or explanation as to why. Is it jealousy? Revenge? Something else? All Richie knows is that he's the sole survivor of his brothers -- and he'll only stay that way if he can keep one step ahead of whoever's been hunting them down.

And then, Richie finds himself attacked by dark, faceless figures. Fighting them off with modified B-boy moves, he races through the city, using his skills to dodge and acrobatically avoid his pursuers. Then he makes one bad move -- running down a treacherous blind alley into a dead end. His feet are bloodied by the full speed chase; the alley is full of broken glass and jagged pieces of metal, and the sound of his hunters is growing louder. That's when he notices shadowy figure before him, standing in the buzzing glow of an overhead neon light. As Richie watches, his heart pounding, the figure kneels down on one knee and lays out a pair of sneakers -- a brand new pair of Jags, with emblems on the side that he's never seen before. And then the figure fades into the shadows. Just before his mysterious benefactor disappears, Richie catches a glimpse of his face. He could swear that he looks just like the B-boy who'd invited him to his first jam.

Richie pulls the kicks on, just as his attackers pour into the alley. As they swarm him from all directions, he feels fear in his heart -- and there's a flash as the emblems on his shoes glow with a sudden light, and a pair of dull green blades appear in his hands, which when he swings them against his attackers seems to paralyze them, sending them stumbling to the ground. His fear turns to excitement, and the emblems on his shoes and the blades in his hands turn yellow, and strike now with a shocking electrical charge. As his confidence grows, the excitement turns to anger -- and the blades glow red with searing heat.

The attackers flee before Richie's newfound ability to turn his emotions into energy. Now, as B-boy Sam turned superpowered street samurai The Sneak, Richie decides to turn the tables, tracking down his attackers, uncovering why they've targeted him and his brothers -- and getting his revenge.


apex panel discussion/networking mixer this thursday

If you're in the Los Angeles area, the Asian Professional Exchange (APEX) is presenting a mixer/panel discussion on Asian American media this Thursday, August 27 at J Lounge: L.A. Networking Mixer: Exploring the Future of Asian American Media.

I'll be participating on the panel along with Eric Olander, Vice President of News & Production, KSCI LA18 TV; Belle Tsou, LA 18's chief entertainment/lifestyle reporter and Host and Producer of tSOu LA show; and Carl Choi, CEO and co-founder of Plan C Group. Some details:
Asian Professional Exchange (APEX) Presents

L.A. Networking Mixer:
Exploring the Future of Asian American Media

With support from our Community Sponsor, CAPE (Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment, Inc.), our aptly themed event will feature a panel discussion on the present and future of Asian American media.

The panel will discuss issues related to the explosion of "new" media (facebook, twitter, youtube, blogs etc.) at a time when "traditional" media (television, magazines, books) is facing new challenges. Panelists will address why so many Asian American media efforts have failed to gain traction, and whether there is a place for Asian American media in the new environment.

In addition to the discussion panel, the event will provide an opportunity to network and mingle, guests will enjoy drink specials throughout the night.

Thursday, August 27, 2009
7:00PM - 8:00PM Panel Discussion (with complimentary hors d'oeuvres)
8:00PM -10:00PM Networking Mixer
(Drink specials all night)

J Lounge
1119 S. Olive St.
Los Angeles, CA 90015

$10 for APEX Premium Members & CAPE Members w/ online pre-registration
$15 for Non-Members w/ online pre-registration
$20 for All Walk-ins

Click here to register: http://apexlamixer.eventbrite.com/

Attire: Business Casual/Cocktail Attire

For more information, please contact Alan Cheng, Director of LA Membership: Alan@apex.org or
George Yin, Chair of LA Membership: George@apex.org
It should be a fun and interesting discussion, as well as a cool opportunity to network and mingle. If you're in the area, and can make it out, please stop by and say hello. For more information about the event, and to RSVP, visit the APEX website here.

oldest u.s. service member dies in afghanistan

First Sgt. Jose San Nicolas Crisostomo, a Vietnam veteran and Bronze Star recipient who volunteered to return to the Army and serve in Afghanistan, became the oldest U.S. service member to die in combat there. He was 59: Soldier, 59, is oldest U.S. service member to die in Afghanistan.

Crisostomo was killed by a roadside bomb in Kabul last week while riding in an armored Humvee. He would have turned 60 later this month.

He joined the Army in 1969 and retired in 1993, then volunteered to serve again in 2008. His record shows he was one of the few service members who served in Vietnam and in current U.S. military operation. He also served during the first Gulf War in 1991.

He twice received the Bronze Star, which is awarded to U.S. troops for combat valor, and also received the Purple Heart for being wounded in combat. His records also indicate he received numerous other commendations, including the Kuwait Liberation Medal.

A native of Guam who settled in the Seattle area, he helped found Grupun Minagof, a group of Chamorro Americans who organize fiestas and other happenings in the local community. The group also raises money to provide scholarships for Chamorro youth. More here: Oldest coalition soldier to die in Afghanistan was 59.

nbc's trauma filming in san francisco's chinatown

The new NBC drama Trauma has apparently been filming in San Francisco... including Chinatown. How do I know this? Our friend Jack sends along this little clipping from Chinese newspaper World Journal -- a shot of the set in Chinatown, featuring what looks like a bunch of bar girls hanging out on the curb. The Chinatown episode? Greeaaaaat. (Thanks, Jack.)

UPDATE: Some video of Trauma filming in Chinatown:

This one appears to be a fight between two Asian girls.

And here's one with a whole bunch of smoke. (Thanks, Jen.)

UPDATE: The following casting notice was posted for extras on Trauma:
Important: This is regarding a picture pick extra role for Trauma the NBC TV show. Up to 10 women will be selected from photos by the Director and be visible on camera in scenes with speaking actors, but this is still non-speaking extra work only. Photos received will be submitted to production asap.

We are seeking young looking Chinese women 18 years old - 20s to portray women that have been forced into prostitution, found trapped in Chinatown building. Women will have more of an innocent and unfortunate portrayal, wearing tube tops, or tank tops, short shorts or mini skirts, flip flops. etc., NOT scantily clad in lingerie!

Scenes shoot over 2 days Wed 8/19 & Mon 8/24 and this is a 2 Day commitment for continuity purposes. Shoots last up to 12 hours on average and tend to start early morning, 6AM or 7AM. However exact start time is unknown until evening before each shoot day. You must be available all day, BOTH days in order to submit for this role. NO exceptions. Non Union extra rate is $78.32 for 8hrs plus overtime at time and 1/2. Must have current US passport or valid Drivers License with either Social Security card or original birth certificate. Free parking is provided and so is a meal during the day.

If you are available for both 8/19 & 8/24 you can submit via Direct Cast Extras Roles or email the following info to projects@beaubonneaucasting.com ASAP:
* Name & Chinese Women in subject line
* Telephone number(s)
* Height, Weight and general clothing size
* Availability for 8/19 & 8/24
* 2 very recent but basic color digital photos, close up and full standing view

Submit ASAP only if you are available! Keep in mind we are looking for young faces; pictures of you with light make-up or clean faces are preferred over heavy make-up. Submissions will be forwarded to production upon receipt and you will be contacted by BBC staff by Monday or Tuesday at the latest if you are chosen. Thanks,

Beau Bonneau Casting
Funny, how they describe the extra parts as an "innocent and unfortunate" portrayal. I guess we'll see what goes down in Chinatown when the episode eventually airs.

asian american women more at risk for suicidal behavior

Saw this on Disgrasian last week, and I wanted to share it too... According to new research from the University of Washington, U.S.-born Asian American women are particularly at risk for suicidal behavior: US-born Asian-American Women More Likely To Think About, Attempt Suicide, Study Finds.

The study shows 15.93 percent of U.S.-born Asian-American women have contemplated suicide in their lifetime, exceeding national estimates of 13.5 percent for all Americans. Lifetime estimates of suicide attempts also were higher among Asian American women than the general population, 6.29 percent vs. 4.6 percent. The new research also shows that:
  • The percentage of Asian Americans who reported thinking about suicide increased the longer they lived in the U.S.
  • Young Asian Americans, between 18 and 34, had the highest estimates of thinking about (11.9 percent), planning (4.38 percent) and attempting suicide (3.82 percent) of any age group
  • Asian Americans who were never married reported the highest lifetime estimates of thinking about (17.9 percent) planning (7.6 percent) and attempting (5 percent) suicide.
  • There were few major differences by ethnicity, although Chinese (10.9 percent) and Filipinos (9.76 percent) reported the highest rates of thinking about suicide.
We know that when it comes to the issue of suicide and mental health, the Asian American community is seriously underserved. Even talking about these matters -- forget about it. For a lot of people, it's still highly taboo. Do these statistics really come as a surprise? The cycle of silence is killing us.

Special props to Jen Wang for being so frank, honest and open about her own struggles with depression: "On the subject of mental health, I not only talk, I tend to ramble, because keeping silent and being ashamed of it, that's really the crazy thing." Amen to that.

kollaboration acoustic 3 winners

Just wanted to give a shout out to all the performers of Kollaboration Acoustic 3, who put on a fantastic show Saturday night. Much love to the grand prize winners, Alfa and Mike Isberto -- a tie! That's Mike above, singing "Pretty Girl." This cat is smooth.

Here's a clip of Alfa performing the title track from her debut LP Second Skin. After hearing her perform "Supergirl," I went home and downloaded the album from iTunes. Also check out her super cute cover of Feist's "1 2 3 4."

And special props to Gabe Bondoc, who took home the evening's audience prize (determined by text message voting). This guy also turned in a hell of a performance. You might already be part of his legion of subscribers on YouTube. Here's Gabe doing a sweet-ass of cover of "Chasing Pavements."

paramount apologizes for the goods

Here's some news coverage of JACL and MANAA's protest of The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard outside Paramount Pictures last Friday afternoon: Japanese Americans protest 'Goods' scene. According to the news report, there were about two dozen protestors -- including young kids!

Paramount has apparently apologized. Here's the email from the Japanese Amercian Citizens League that started circulating over the weekend:

Los Angeles - The Japanese American Citizens League (JACL), the nation's largest and oldest Asian American civil rights and community advocacy organization, welcomed Paramount Pictures' apology for "racially demeaning language" in its recently released film, The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard.

Adam Goodman, President and CEO of Paramount, emailed the apology to National Executive Director and CEO of the JACL, Floyd Mori, on the afternoon of August 21, just prior to a protest that was planned by Guy Aoki, head and co-founder of Media Action Network for Asian Americans (MANAA). Mori and Craig Ishii, JACL Regional Director, and other JACL members and staff participated in the protest. The JACL had expressed its disapproval of the film and the widespread marketing effort in trailers that used an objectionable scene with racial slurs and a feeble attempt to depict a hate crime as comical. The JACL had requested the apology.

Goodman stated in his email: "On behalf of the studio, I want to extend our sincerest apologies to the Japanese American Citizens League and the greater Asian American community for the racially demeaning language used in the scenes depicted in the film." He further explained that the marketing tools in question had been pulled, and he went on to invite the JACL and other leaders in the Asian American community to a continuing dialog on the issue.

Mori welcomed the apology and stated: "We are encouraged that Paramount recognized its error in using a racial slur and violence against Asian Americans as comedy. We find nothing funny about racial slurs nor do we see the comedy in using a well known hate crime as so called satire. We are heartened by Mr. Goodman's invitation to meet with Asian American leaders to discuss the use of racial slurs against Asian Americans, which perpetuates a dangerous message to the younger generation in this country. This movie indicates that there is an ongoing need for groups such as the JACL to be vigilant in the fight against discrimination. We look forward to this discussion with the movie industry."

The scene to which the JACL had objected has a sales manager cheering, "Don't get me started on Pearl Harbor-the J___ flying in low and fast. We are the Americans, and they are the enemy! Never again!" This is followed by the group of sales personnel mobbing and beating up the lone Asian American salesman. There is recognition that a "hate crime" has been committed and then a following attempt to cover up the crime. Many would recognize the similarity of this incident to an actual hate crime against Vincent Chin, who was killed 20 years ago in Detroit by out of work autoworkers who blamed Japanese auto companies for their troubles and took it out on an innocent man whom they mistakenly thought was of Japanese descent.

Some of the other groups that issued statements joining the JACL in their objection to the racial depictions in the movie are The Anti Defamation League (ADL), the American Jewish Committee (AJC), and the OCA.
That's a pretty crappy apology... but it's an apology. The decree came last week to remove the offending scene from all trailer and marketing materials. But the scene still exists in the movie. At this point, I actually don't mind this -- it's a document. It shows that racist foolishness is still alive and kicking in 21st century Hollywood.

Nikkei View has a pretty good roundup of how it all went down: Paramount offers apology for racism in "The Goods." A little more coverage from Joz at Los Angeles Metblogs: Asian American Groups Protest THE GOODS at Paramount Studios: Hate Crimes are not Funny. And documentation (including video and photos) over at MANAA's blog: Asian American coalition protests Paramount and 'The Goods'!

america's best dance crew: season four, week 3

On last night's episode of America's Best Dance Crew, the groups were challenged to incorporate martial arts moves into their routines. Yeah.

With much respect to Quest Crew's Steve Terada, who was on hand to demonstrate the assigned moves to the crews (and seems like an extremely cool guy), this was quite possibly the worst episode ABDC yet. And it seemed like the judges thought so too (Shane Sparks sounded downright irate).

Like I said last week, this could be Dance Crew's jump-the-shark moment... I will stay tuned, but my enthusiasm for the show has taken a huge nosedive.

did laura ling and euna lee endanger north korean refugees/activists?

It's been a few weeks since journalists Euna Lee and Laura Ling returned home safe and reunited with their families, after spending 140 days in a North Korean prison. While I was relieved to see them return, there are others who will not be so lucky. There's a hard truth behind the story of their ordeal -- the many lives that were placed in danger when Laura and Euna were caught.

Now, in South Korea, there's a very vocal movement of human rights advocates, bloggers and Christian pastors who are accusing the journalists of needlessly endangering the people whose stories brought them to the area in the first place: North Korean refugees and the activists who help them: In South Korea, Freed U.S. Journalists Come Under Harsh Criticism.

Many fear that the notes and videotapes Euna and Laura gathered in China before their ill-fated venture to the border fell into the hands of authorities, potentially compromising the identities of refugees and activists dedicated smuggling people out of North Korea:
The Rev. Lee Chan-woo, a South Korean pastor, said the police raided his home in China on March 19, four days after the journalists visited and filmed a secret site where he looked after children of North Korean refugee women. He said that he was then deported in early April and that his five secret homes for refugees were shut down. The children, he said, were dispersed to family members in China, who could not afford to take care of them.

"The Chinese cited scenes from films confiscated from the journalists when they interrogated me," said Mr. Lee, 70. As evidence of the ordeal, he provided documents he said the Chinese police gave him after the raid.

"The reporters visited our place with a noble cause," he added. "I did my best to help them. But I wonder how they could be so careless in handling their tapes and notebooks. They should have known that if they were caught, they would suffer for sure, but also many others would be hurt because of them."

The Rev. Chun Ki-won, the chief pastor of the Durihana Mission that Mr. Lee works with, said that two of the women interviewed by the American journalists fled China after being told about the arrests, frightened of being repatriated to North Korea and put in labor camps. Another interviewee was still on the run in China, he said.

"We could not find out whether they filmed any other refugees we don't know of," Mr. Chun said. "If that's the case, we have to find them, provided it's not too late already. But the American reporters are not talking to us."
Unfortunately, many of the details of Laura and Euna's reporting are still a mystery. The journalists haven't readily revealed details about the story they were working on, or the circumstances under which they were captured.

However, a spokesman from CurrentTV says that many of the details in the pastors' accounts aren't correct, and differ from Laura and Euna's version of what happened. I'm hoping that in due time, we'll get to hear about the entire ordeal, in the reporters' own words.


matcha: way of the sword, august 27

San Francisco friends, it's time that again. The Asian Art Museum presents the latest installment of its after-hours museum mixer series, Matcha. Performances, art, cocktails, music, mingling... the perfect way to chill on a Thursday night in the city. This one's good: Way of the Sword.
MATCHA: Way of the Sword
Thursday, August 27, 5:00-9:00 pm
Asian Art Museum
ONLY $10 (includes admission to Samurai)

Iaido is a Japanese martial art from days of samurai battle, associated with smooth, controlled movements of drawing the sword from its scabbard, striking an opponent, then replacing the sword in the scabbard.

We are honored to present a special appearance by esteemed swordsman Esaka Sensei. Holding many prestigious posts, including instructor for Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Self Defense Forces, he teaches iaido throughout the world. Observe demonstrations of riveting techniques, try some moves yourself in a fun workshop, cool down with a docent conversation, create an artwork inspired by sword hand guards, catch Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman, stroll the galleries, savor a sake flight from the cash bar, enjoy music spun by DJ Tau, and much more. See LORDS OF THE SAMURAI, now with a new rotation of fresh artworks. This special exhibition reveals a softer, unknown side to these legendary warriors.
It's happening this Thursday, August 27 at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. Want to win free tickets? Go here. For more information about Matcha, visit the Asian Art Musem website here.

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