September 12, 2012
A gang of fleeing bank robbers decided to give the residents of South Central Los Angeles a bit of economic stimulus Wednesday morning by tossing wads of cash out of the window of their getaway vehicle, and although TV news anchors and reporters tried to put a socially acceptable spin the actions of the Robin Hood gangstas, those on the street saw it in a complete different light as many of them rushed into the street to scoop up the Benjamins. “Deshawn,” who said he did not grab any of the robbers’ stolen money, told KTLA-5’s reporter Elizabeth Espinoza he saw this morning’s shower of cash as “neighborhood stimulus.” Added Deshawn: “We all need it. If you had seen it, what would you do?” he asked the reporter rhetorically. “If you saw money flying out, you would do the same thing they did, especially if you’re in a time of need.”
[The following video runs 07:10]
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April 11, 2010
YOSH AND NO-NO BOY
A release selling Greg Watanabe as the Clark Gable of 21st Century. Watanabe is playing Kenji in John Okada’s No-No Boy a new play written, set to go places, by Ken Narasaki, and directed by Alberto Isaac. March 27th was the premiere performance. Has it attracted your attention yet?
In the 1957 novel, John Okada took a grim dry subject, made a title of it No-No Boy and wrote the most depressing downbeat plot in a realistic yet entertaining “American” way that settled the nerves of jittery Japanese American readers, that the author was a vet of the war in the Pacific who has “reasons” for writing about a traitorous pariah that refused to fight.
How often do JA theatergoers have to compare the work of (a) JA novel to a new play that has taken on the burden of duplicating the literary effect in theatre? What better test for life in a community, than knowledge about itself? If there’s a community, it will rouse if not rise.
February 20, 2010
December 2, 2009
[Update: Potato Hole by Booker T. Jones (of Booker T. and the MGs fame) took the Grammy in the Best Pop Instrumental Album category, Jan. 31]
Scanning the Grammy nominations for 2009 2010 just after they came out tonight, I thought I was hallucinating when I saw that the Asian American fusion band Hiroshima had been nominated in the Best Pop Instrumental category for Legacy, the group’s 17th album, a compilation of the band’s body of work from its first ten years of existence.
“We thought we should celebrate surviving 30 years in this bizarre industry somehow and some kind of ‘best of’ seemed appropriate—except we couldn’t decide on the songs. So then we turned to our fans, and we truly appreciated the overwhelming response as to what should be our Top 10,” writes Hiroshima co-founder Dan Kuramoto, 64.
Hiroshima, formed in the mid-1970s, pioneered the mixing of traditional Asian instruments like the koto, shakuhachi, biwa and taiko with jazz and rock elements. In recent years their sound has been genre-ed as urban world music.
This year’s Grammy awards ceremonies will be held Jan. 31 at Staples Center in a ceremony to be telecast on CBS-TV. Awards are determined by more than 12,000 voting members of the Recording Academy from recordings released between Oct. 1, 2008 and Aug. 31, 2009.
August 26, 2009
San Francisco artist Justine Lai likes to paint herself having sex with Presidents of the United States (in chronological order). Raised in Sacramento, Lai, 24, lives and works in San Francisco.
Writes Lai about her irreverent Join or Die series:
I am interested in humanizing and demythologizing the Presidents by addressing their public legacies and private lives. The presidency itself is a seemingly immortal and impenetrable institution; by inserting myself in its timeline, I attempt to locate something intimate and mortal. I use this intimacy to subvert authority, but it demands that I make myself vulnerable along with the Presidents.
See Justine Lai subverting authority in watercolors, Join or Die. Correspond with the artist: email@example.com
June 17, 2009
Japanese Americans all across the land from Vermont to Hawaii will celebrate the ancient Buddhist Obon festival in the coming weeks with joyous folk dancing, religious observances and traditional Japanese foods in what is the most authentic cultural event remaining in Japanese America.
Obon Festival season continues through August and marks the zenith of the Buddhist year. But more than just a chance to take colorful photos and eat Japanese comfort foods, Obon is a Buddhist teaching come alive.
Obon [ お盆 ] originates from the story of Mokuren, a disciple of the Buddha, who during a meditative trance saw his deceased mother suffering in the Realm of Hungry Ghosts (the Buddhist equivalent of purgatory). Greatly disturbed, he went to the Buddha and asked how he could release his mother from this suffering. Buddha instructed him to make offerings and to meditate on the life of his mother. Mokuren followed the Buddha’s instructions and he began to see the true nature of her past unselfishness and the many sacrifices that she had made for him. The disciple, happy because of his mother’s release and grateful for his mother’s kindness, danced with joy. From this dance of joy came Obon, which has been celebrated for thousands of years as a time in which ancestors and their sacrifices are remembered and appreciated.
2009 OBON FESTIVAL SCHEDULE
Aug. 1-2—Gardena Buddhist Temple Obon Odori, 1517 W. 166th St., Gardena, CA 90247; (310) 327-9400; 3-10 p.m. Sat./2-9 p.m. Sun.
Aug. 1—Buddhist Temple of San Diego Obon Odori, 2929 Market St., San Diego, CA 92102; (619) 239-0896: 5-9 p.m.
Aug. 1—Oregon Buddhist Temple “Obonfest 2009,” 3720 SE 34th Ave., Portland, OR 97202; (503) 234-9456: 4-9 p.m.
Aug. 1—San Luis Obispo Buddhist Temple Obon Odori, 6996 Ontario Rd., San Luis Obispo, CA 93405; (805)-595-2625: 1-9 p.m.
Aug. 1—Waialua Hongwanji Temple Obon, 67-313 Kealohanui St., Waialua, HI 96791; (808) 637-4395: from 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 1-2—Palo Alto Buddhist Temple Obon Odori, 2751 Louis Rd., Palo Alto, CA 94303; (650)856-0123: 5-11 p.m. Sat./noon-10 p.m. Sun.
March 31, 2009
The Asian American vernacular press have served their communities for more than a century, but the economy has hit them hard and one day soon the quaint but vital Asian American ethnic newspapers on the east and west coasts may be nothing more than microfiche memories. H/T L.A. Observed.
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The sinking economy is threatening the ethnic publications that immigrant communities rely upon to stay informed and navigate American life.
Although the ethnic press once seemed immune to the forces hurting mainstream newspapers across the country, a growing number of publications that serve immigrant and minority communities are laying off staff, closing print editions or shutting down altogether.
Unlike mainstream newspapers, which have seen circulation decline over the decades, most ethnic publications have been retaining or expanding their print readership base, thanks to the growth of immigrant populations with strong newspaper reading habits.
- Plan to Close Chinese-Language Paper Deepens Shadow Over the Ethnic Press, 01/22/09, The New York Times,
March 14, 2009
It’s been almost a half-century since Japanese singer Kyu Sakamoto reached the top of the U.S. charts with Sukiyaki. Now, with Asia all the rage in high-tech and youth culture, some wonder who’ll be the next Asian singer to hit it big in the West. To all but Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert, Korea’s Rain was a bust, and now he’s being sued for millions by an American promoter. Flack chatter predicts that BoA will breakthrough into the U.S. market, and New York-born JPOPer Utada Hikaru seems to be on a never-ending world tour. But KPOP star Sung Si Kyung, a nerdy, bespectacled 29-year-old, honey-throated balladeer-journalist who was signed to a record contract after an Internet audition may be the first Asian crossover star created by micropayments, lossless audio downloads and streaming HD video. But Sung’s international stardom will have to wait until he completes a mandatory 27-month stint in the South Korean army. Here’s Who Do You Love in Sung’s unaccented English pop vocalese.
Who Do You Love
February 23, 2009
Actor Sean Penn, who won the best actor Oscar at the 81st Academy Awards for his portrayal of San Francisco gay activist Harvey Milk in the film Milk, opened his acceptance speech by calling the audience “you Commie-, homo-loving sons of guns.”
Then, the first person Penn thanked was “my best friend Sato Masuzawa,” whom almost no one had ever heard of. Speculation was that the Japanese name was a cipher for the actor’s wife, Robin Wright Penn or that it was some inside joke. Nope.
Sato Masuzawa, a graphic artist and artistic facilitator, is credited as “assistant to Mr. Penn,” beginning with the 1998 film Hurly Burly. According to the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) Masuzawa’s first show biz credit came in 1991 when he she (thanks, Disgrasian Whoo-whoo!) was the post-production coordinator on Indian Runner, which Penn wrote and directed.
The best acceptance speech by far was delivered by young Japanese animator Kunio Kato, whose Tsumeki no Ie/La Maison en Petits Cubes won for best animated short. Kato kept it short and sweet quoting ’80s Styx lyric, “Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto.”
The best foreign language film award went to Japan’s Okuribito/Departures.
Other non-Slumdog, non-winning Asian nominees included Thavisouk Phrasavath, best documentary Nerakhoon/The Betrayal; Steven Okazaki, best documentary short subject, The Conscience of Nhem En; and James J. Murakami, art direction, Changeling.
February 9, 2009
December 3, 2008
You never know where Kogi BBQ’s elusive Korean taco truck will turn up next, but through the miracle of hi-tech it’s trackable on the ‘Net via Twitter. If you’re trying to avoid foreclosure or the ex or El Jéfe Say you’ve been laid off and you’re squatting in an abandoned and foreclosed condo somewhere in L.A. and you need something cheap and good to eat at 2 a.m., you’d be lucky to stumble upon these nomadic Koreano taqueros in some vacant parking lot on Wilshire or on Sunset Blvd. near Ivar, in the Sizzler parking lot (7th & Western) or next to the after-hours snack spot Hodori at the infamous nexus of Olympic and Vermont. Wondrous stuff awaits, like galbi, bulgogi, spicy pork and chicken tacos, binde-dduk (scallion pancakes), pork belly fried rice, breakfast burritos and Red Bull. This is quintessential L.A. dining at street food prices.
October 27, 2008
GLENDALE — About 25 teachers attended a seminar on Korean culture Wednesday afternoon that participants said would help them interact with students of all immigrant backgrounds.
The seminar, co-sponsored by the Glendale Unified School District and the Korea Academy for Educators, was held at the district’s Professional Development Center and gave a three-hour historical and cultural snapshot about Koreans to teachers, organizers said.
The hope, Korea Academy President Mary Connor said, was that the session would be a starting point for exploring the similarities between students of different backgrounds and specifically initiating education about Koreans, a group that makes up about 15% of the district’s population, school board member Nayiri Nahabedian said.