asian pop's look back

Jeff Yang's latest "Asian Pop" column is another look back at the ups and downs of 2007, written in the form of letter to his unborn son: Dear Son.

It's a round up of the past year's distinctive Asian and Asian American happenings, a lot of which we talked about here. Like the custody case over Anna Mae He; the Dutch couple that ditched their adopted Korean daughter; the godawful rap of Singapore's MDA; the controversy over the Martin Luther King memorial's Chinese sculptor.

Jeff also compiles a list of notable Asian and Asian American personalities who passed away in 2007, including:
  • Athlete Richard Tom, bronze medal winner in 1948's London Olympic games, weightlifting; first Asian American to win an Olympic medal.

  • Jazz singer and Las Vegas standout Mary Kaye, born Mary Ka'aihue; the native Hawaiian performer was the grand-niece of Queen Liliuokalani, last monarch of Hawaii.

  • Musician Lance Hahn, frontman and guitarist for influential punk band J Church.

  • Legendary singer and cultural ambassador for the Aloha State Don Ho.

  • Pioneering journalist Bill Hosokawa.

  • Actress Miyoshi Umeki, first Asian American to be nominated for, and to win, an Oscar; created role of Mei Li for Broadway and film version of "Flower Drum Song."

  • Animator Iwao Takamoto, creator of Scooby-Doo.

  • Inventor of instant ramen Momofuku Ando.

  • Supermodel Sayoko Yamaguchi; named as one of the top six models in the world by Newsweek in 1977.

  • Journalist Ah Jook Ku, first Asian American to write for the Associated Press.

  • Kihachiro Onitsuka, founder of the Asics shoe brand and namesake behind the Onitsuka Tiger brand made famous by Bruce Lee.

  • Taiwanese cinematic auteur Edward Yang, whose works include "Yi Yi (A One and a Two" and "A Brighter Summer Day."

  • Bill Sorro, Filipino American Bay Area activist who fought for the rebuilding of the International Hotel, the historic heart of San Francisco's Filipino community.
Thanks, Jeff, for putting that list together. And thanks in general for regularly writing the "Asian Pop" column. It's always a sharp, well-written examination at various facets of Asian American popular culture. I sat on a couple of panels with Jeff last year, and I really appreciated his insights. Looking forward to more Asian Pop in 2008.

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