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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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.

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Pay money To my Pain

February 20, 2010

Pay money To my Pain, a transpacific hardcore metal band, consists of K (vocals), Zax (d), T$uyo$hi (b), Pablo (g). They hang out in L.A. and Venice sometimes.

[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.

Oh, Mister President!

August 26, 2009

With degrees in art and English from Stanford, Justine Lai is currently living it up in San Francisco

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: justinelai@gmail.com

Obon In America Animation

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.

Hundreds of yukata-clad dancers jam Halldale Ave. in Gardena, Calif. to dance the Bon Odori in memory of departed loved ones. The Gardena Buddhist temple will host its annual Obon on Aug. 1 & 2


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.

(408) 424-4105

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.

Watsonville Obon

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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.

—Rachel Roh

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,

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