Saturday, March 31, 2007

The Weekend Groove

Some classic funk to get your weekend going.

Are you in love with Mary Jane?

Ah yes...Kung Fu disco! A true Hip Hapa moment.

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Friday, March 30, 2007

Rally For Cesar

Although Cesar Chavez's birthday isn't until tomorrow, commemoration got started a little early here in Oakland with a rally in front of city hall in support of making March 31 a national holiday in his honor. Your exclusive photos:

I didn't catch much of the proceedings, but the speakers seemed to be mainly high school students, organized through BAMN ("The Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration, & Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary").

It's nice to see teenagers mobilizing like this. As far as BAMN goes, they deserve credit as well, but I have to say: back in the day (around about 209 when they were just "The Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action By Any Means Necessary") they did not seem well-organized, and I remember people complaining about them co-opting the work of others and being more of a detriment than a help. Hopefully, things have changed, but regardless, they're out there putting in an effort, and so thanks and appreciation are in order.

To help support the movement to recognize Chavez with a national holiday, you can sign this online petition, or attend any number of rallies taking place near you (here's a partial list). The Bay Area isn't done yet, either, and it looks like there are pretty big plans in San Francisco.
As with many of our announcements, this is definitely last-minute, but the links above offer plenty of in-roads to get involved in the future.

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Making Headlines

Dissatisfied with recent media coverage of the administration, the Deputy Chief takes matters into his own hands (click to enlarge)...

If anyone knows Illustrator and can help me (a) make this bigger or (b) get rid of that grey bar on the right side, I'm all ears.

Update: It appears the Deputy Chief--AKA "MC Rove"--has other talents as well.

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Thursday, March 29, 2007

Dispatches from the SF International Asian American Film Festival - Part V

Hip Hapa's coverage of this year's SFIAAFF features two intrepid hapa reporters whose skill, dedication, moxy, and insight will bring you the low-down on the hottest film festival in town. Today's entry is brought to you by Yasmine Gomez:

The World, Complicated (shorts program)--Several people recommended this shorts program to me, so I decided to check it out. The host warned us that this was not the "feel good" program, but that these films would haunt and linger, which they definitely did. Dreamtrace followed a couple in a strangely confined space, as they dreamed for a better future. I also enjoyed Windowbreaker which brought new light to racial profiling. In an amusing Hapa-related scene, the Asian mother warns her two young kids to lock the door after she leaves the house because of the "dangerous" Vietnamese teens that hang around the neighborhood. The daughter then whispers to her brother, "But we're Vietnamese," to which the brother replies, "We're HALF Vietnamese." Another interesting visual piece was the CGI-animated Doll Face, exposing society's desire for beauty as determined by the media. Luckily, it's on YouTube for you all to see for yourselves:

The End of the World As We Know It (shorts program)--Several humorous shorts capped off by a miserably long ninja mess. My favorites included Russian Hill Roulette, Equal Opportunity, Pandamania, and The Chinese Connection, by hapa director Aram Siu Wai Collier. Aram's clever short follows a Chinese American girl's search for love online in suburban America. I spoke with Aram after the program and he has since moved from the bay area to Toronto to work for the Toronto Asian American film festival there.

The Year of the Fish--a magical fairy-tale using rotoscope animation (as used in the film Waking Life). This film looked great and was an interesting story with strong acting performances, but I was a little uncomfortable with some of the portrayals. Sure, every fairy tale needs the dark witch or evil stepmother, but did they have to put them into a NY Chinatown massage parlor setting? I’m sure their lives are hard enough as it is without having to be portrayed as heartless dragon ladies.

Finally, I was able to attend the closing night gala, since I volunteered in the early evening. I didn’t get a chance to catch the closing night film, Dark Matter, which I’m sure got extra attention since it stars Meryl Streep. I did hear that the film was very good, but the ending threw people for a loop. I guess you’ll have to see it to find out! The gala was a fun time and also revealed the winners of the audience, narrative, and documentary awards. Hapa filmmaker Eric Byler was one of the winners for his film Tre.

In his acceptance speech, he called for more political action from the Asian American community--that buying a movie ticket is an important act, but not as important as voting.

That’s it for me! Until next year...

And that's it for our coverage. Thanks to Yasmine and Elli for filing these reports--you guys are hapatastic.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Dispatches from the SF International Asian American Film Festival - Part IV

Hip Hapa's coverage of this year's SFIAAFF features two intrepid hapa reporters whose skill, dedication, moxy, and insight will bring you the low-down on the hottest film festival in town. Today's entry is brought to you by Elli Nagai-Rothe:

I volunteered all day on Monday, March 19 (12:00pm - 9:30pm) and then caught a 9:30pm film, so I was pretty much at the VMS Van Ness theater for 11.5 hours straight. How's that for dedication to the festival?

There was a special screening for SF high school students (I think there were about six high schools in total that came) on Monday of American Pastime. It actually was a good film for high school students to see (in my opinion), balancing heavy issues of civil rights and social justice during internment of Japanese Americans during WWII and a passion for baseball that transcends cultural boundaries.

You can check out a summary of the film online, so I won't give you one. I found it to be very touching--perhaps it was overly simplistic in terms of the story with a happy ending, pulling the heart-strings sort of thing. Given that my grandparents were interned at Topaz (where the film took place, and was actually shot just outside of the old Topaz camp site), it was particularly moving for me. And I guess other people thought it was pretty good too, since it won the audience Comcast award.

I also saw Pig Fell into a Well, a Korean film that was originally premiered at the SFIAAFF ten years ago. I don't think I was alone when I left the film thinking and saying out loud: "Huh?!" Can someone explain what was going on in that film?

One of the nice things about volunteering (there are many reasons), is being able to catch films during your shifts. This is not always guaranteed--you may miss 1/2 of the beginning and/or end, but depending on your volunteer duties, you can usually catch several films (being an usher lends itself particularly well for this). I made the most of this opportunity and packed in as many films as possible, while making use of my volunteer vouchers and other free tickets offered to volunteers.

Monday night, I saw Blackout, a Filipino thriller. Really, that is the best way to describe it. A father of a young boy and a heavy alcoholic who lost his wife (though it's not clear if she left him, or she died... because as viewers we're unclear as to the mental stability of the father) regularly blacks out and can't remember what he does during his blackout periods. Anyhow, he thinks he accidentally kills his neighbor's daughter and then tries to hide her body... and the story unfolds from there. At times suspenseful, and at a few moments during the movie, I jumped in my seat.

Tuesday, March 20th, I caught Owl and the Sparrow, a very sweet Vietnamese film (also covered by Yasmine Gomez below). The story was beautiful and the young actress in this is just amazing. I really enjoyed this film, though honestly, I got really nauseous watching it--it's filmed with a hand-held camera and when it's up on the big screen, all the shaking and moving with the camera angles and shots gave me motion sickness. So despite having to close my eyes and steady my stomach during several parts, I still really enjoyed it. And it won best narrative feature, which is awesome.

My last volunteer shift was on Wednesday, March 21 and I was able to catch Love for Share, which is a very interesting look at the growing prevalence of polygamy in Indonesia. The film follows the stories of three main women, and very loosely ties them together. The last story drags a bit, but overall I found the film to be both informative and very engaging.

Wednesday night after my shift, I hung out with a bunch of the festival staff, who are all awesome people. This is the other main reason I enjoy volunteering--the people involved are very committed and interesting folk (volunteers and staff alike), and I've made several friends over the years through the festival.

I'm looking forward to next year's festival already! And I know that festival staff start their planning for next year about two weeks after the current year's festival ends. It's a big project, but I'm very grateful that the festival brings so many wonderful films to SF every year.

Stay tuned for one last update from San Francisco...

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Sexual Tension in the Workplace

What does this have to do with anything, you ask? Not much, I'll admit. But sometimes, stories need telling.

With a nod to YaySports, brave pioneer of the altered photo and my inspiration for this little piece of work.

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Monday, March 26, 2007

Johnnie Morton Puts the Mixed in Mixed Martial Arts

Something to get my collaborator fired up: hapa Johnnie Morton will be throwing down for a little K-1 action this summer.

At a press conference tomorrow, the ex-NFL wide receiver will be featured alongside Royce Gracie and other luminaries of the mixed martial arts world to publicize a pay-per-view event at LA's Memorial Coliseum, to take place on June 2.

Morton's opponent? Deadspin speculates Matt Millen. Those kidders.


Saturday, March 24, 2007

Weekend Musical Interlude

For those of you needing a jazzy smoke break...

Jazzy Sport's very own Gagle

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Friday, March 23, 2007

Dispatches from the SF International Asian American Film Festival - Part III

Hip Hapa's coverage of this year's SFIAAFF features two intrepid hapa reporters whose skill, dedication, moxy, and insight will bring you the low-down on the hottest film festival in town. Today's entry is brought to you by Yasmine Gomez:

The Mistress of Spices – Relied too heavily on the beauty of star Aishwarya Rai. No doubt, a gorgeous woman. Most of the film, she’s asking the spices to speak to her, while Dylan McDermott falls in love with her beauty. Example line: "Dylan: ‘So what's my spice?’" You understand. (Plays again tomorrow).

Shanghai Kiss – Very funny and entertaining. The dialogue was very witty and lead Ken Leung (Saw, X3) gives an impressive comedic performance. I'm not sure I love the story, which has the lead questioning his Chinese American identity, moving to Shanghai, then back to Los Angeles to reconnect with a 16-year-old blonde girl (Hayden Panetierre from Heroes). I heard David Ren wrote this script when he was 18, which may explain a lot. In the Q&A, he had submitted his script with a smart cover letter that got the attention of the Konwiser brothers who luckily bothered to read it. The film may get distribution, maybe straight to DVD. (Plays again tomorrow).

Owl and the Sparrow – A lovely delicate story about loneliness, love, and freedom set in the context of contemporary Vietnam. When asked about the budget for the film, which was an impressive DV to 35mm transfer, he said it was "low." Enough said. The filmmaker, Stephane Gauger, was born in Saigon and speaks Vietnamese at a "2nd-grade level," so the script was written in English and translated to Vietnamese. He spent a lot of time at the zoo there, which felt like a quiet sanctuary away from the noise and bustle of the streets. He got to know a family who ran the zoo, which partly inspired the characters in the film.

The Great Happiness Space: Tale of an Osaka Love Thief – This has been covered on this blog already, but I have to say this has been my favorite so far. Fascinating. I kind of expected a one-note film which relied more on the gimmick of the subject matter, but the film kept going deeper and uncovering more layers as it went along, and I couldn't help getting drawn into this alternate reality dreamlike "space."
There are a lot of lies about love and devotion spoken in these host clubs, from both men and women, but on the other hand, it felt like such an honest exchange—money for attention, love, happiness, or sex. American courtships aren't too far off, just perhaps not as obvious. Oh, and in case you're looking for a career change, these hosts can make up to $50,000 a month. (Plays again tonight and Sunday).

It's clear I'm in the wrong line of work. Stay tuned for future updates from San Francisco...

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Asians in Latin America

We're a little late on this one--the event is actually in progress as I type these words--but it sounds too cool to not give some attention, even after the fact. It's not like the books won't still be for sale tomorrow, or the research won't continue into the future...

From the University of Illinois at Chicago (and sponsored by the Asian American Resource and Cultural Center; Latin American and Latino Studies Program; Latino Cultural Center; and the history department):

"Workers, Revolutionaries, and National Leaders: The History and Contemporary Reality of Asian Communities in Latin America"

Chinese heroes of Cuban independence and later revolutionaries with Fidel Castro? Brazil, home to the largest Japanese community outside of Japan? The Chinese, Mexico's largest immigrant group by the 1920s? The Japanese-Peruvian son of immigrants elected the president of Peru? These are but a few elements of the little known story of Latin America's Asian immigrant communities.

While their parents and grandparents generally began life in Latin America as exploited workers, the descendants of immigrants from Asia have become part of the fabric of Latin American society and many have risen to positions of importance in politics, agriculture, manufacturing, commerce, and the arts. And today they are being joined by new arrivals from Asia who are part of a growing trans-Pacific connection.

Featured panelists:

Nobuko Adachi - Professor at Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois. She has been editor of Pan-Japan: The International Journal of the Japanese Diaspora since 2000, and is also the editor of Japanese Diasporas: Unsung Pasts, Conflicting Presents, and Uncertain Futures. Her many research interests include Japanese communities in Brazil.

Julie Kim - Professor and researcher at Universidad Diego Portales in Chile. She serves as the Asia Pacific Program Coordinator and is in charge of the Korean Observatory. Her research focuses on Korean immigration to Chile.

Martin Koppel - A writer and editor who joined in interviewing Armando Choy, Gustavo Chui, and Moises Sio Wong for Our History Is Still Being Written - The Story of Three Chinese-Cuban Generals in the Cuban Revolution, the story of three young men of Chinese-Cuban ancestry who joined the 1956-58 Cuban revolution that overthrew the Batista dictatorship. These men became generals, helped lead Cuban volunteers in the fight to defeat South Africa's invasion of Angola, and play leadership roles in Cuba today. Koppel recently traveled with them on a seven-city tour of Cuba where the book was presented to audiences throughout the island.

(The accompanying image comes from the Cuban Revolution book. And no, I haven't figured out Koppel's precise connection to it, as he's not listed as an author, but regardless, it seems like a fascinating read).

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Dispatches from the SF International Asian American Film Festival - Part II

Hip Hapa's coverage of this year's SFIAAFF features two intrepid hapa reporters whose skill, dedication, moxy, and insight will bring you the low-down on the hottest film festival in town. Today's entry is brought to you by Yasmine Gomez:

I volunteered for the opening night gala. My job was mainly standing in the cold outside the Asian Art Museum, checking IDs, and slapping on wristbands, all while donning my lovely teal Cathay Pacific windbreaker. Thank you Cathay Pacific!

The limo for the cast of Justin Lin's Finishing the Game arrived, and they all got out and stood there for a second, which reminded me of the scene from Swingers when the guys first arrive at a Hollywood party and everyone stares for a sec.

So anyway, I happen to be nearest to them with my handful of wristbands ready to go. Dustin Nguyen (21 Jump Street) was very nice and talked to me a bit. Sung Kang (BLT, The Motel) came up to me and just stuck his wrist out, without a word. He looked tired or bored or too cool to talk to this lowly volunteer, but hey, he was very pretty up close, no complaints here. The word on the street about the film: "It was... good. It was... interesting." You can read from that what you like.

After a while, I got to go inside and enjoy the party a bit. Toward the end of the night, I got to meet Richard Wong (director of Colma and the festival's musical trailer) and Eric Byler, who mentioned that he may be taking a break from filmmaking to pursue politics (supporting campaigns, initiatives, etc.). And oh yeah, MC Hammer walked by me as he was leaving. Where am I again?

I also volunteered for the filmmaker brunch… Other than setting up food, I got to just hang out. I think most of the filmmakers were out partying the night before so everyone seemed a bit tired or hungover. I chatted a bit with David Kaplan, director of Year of the Fish. He said he originally filmed it in video, but didn't like the look, so he decided to use rotoscope animation (as in Waking Life). With his small crew, this process took about a year.

Finally, I got a chance to attend the Ellen Kuras Master Class--she’s a famous cinematographer for many Hollywood films, including Eternal Sunshine for the Spotless Mind. She gave related many behind-the-scenes stories from this production as she talked while the film played behind her.

Apparently, Michel Gondry wanted mostly hand-held shots, which posed a challenge for her since the actors had no marks for focus. Michel wanted the actors to have freedom of movement, so she definitely had to adapt quickly, and drew from her documentary experience. She talked a lot about looking for the meaning in her shots, using camera, light, and depth to create relationships.

Her main advice to aspiring directors: "Don't be an asshole."

Words to live by. Stay tuned for future updates from San Francisco...

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Pure Beauty: Judging Race in Japanese American Beauty Pageants

Folks from the early days of UC Berkeley's old Hapa Issues Forum may remember Becky King. The Bay Area has been without her for a couple years (Ireland was the surprising and lucky beneficiary of that move), but this week, she makes a triumphant return--with published book in hand. From the press release:

"In Pure Beauty, Dr. Rebecca Chiyoko King-O’Riain tackles the question, Who is Japanese American, by studying a cultural institution: Japanese American community beauty pageants in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Honolulu. King-O’Riain employs rich ethnographic fieldwork to discover how these pageants seek to maintain racial and ethnic purity amid shifting notions of cultural identity. She uses revealing in-depth interviews with candidates, queens, and community members, her experiences as a pageant committee member, and archival research to establish both the importance and impossibility of racial purity. Pure Beauty shows how racial and gendered meanings are enacted through the pageants, and reveals their impact on Japanese American men, women, and children."

Starting today, you can go check her out on mini-tour and cop the new book:

What: Speaking engagement
Where: University of San Francisco, 250 McLaren Hall, 2130 Fulton Street, San Francisco, CA 94117
When: Tuesday, March 20, 2007, 4:00-6:00 pm
For more information: 415-422-5555

What: Speaking engagement
Where: Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California, 1840 Sutter Street, San Francisco, CA 94115
When: Wednesday, March 21, 2007, 6:00-8:00 pm
For more information: 415-567-5505

What: Panel discussion
Where: University of California, Berkeley, Center for Race & Gender, 642 Barrows Hall #1074, Berkeley, CA 94720-1074
When: Thursday, March 22, 2007, 4:00-6:00 pm
For more information: 510-643-8488

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Monday, March 19, 2007

And While He Was at It, He Even Dissed Magic Johnson, Too

This site has made its endorsement of Barack Obama fully clear, probably tiresomely so. I figure it therefore has some measure of responsibility to respond to David Ehrenstein's "Obama the 'Magic Negro'" in the Op-Ed section of today's LA Times. An excerpt:

"Like a comic-book superhero, Obama is there to help, out of the sheer goodness of a heart we need not know or understand. For as with all Magic Negroes, the less real he seems, the more desirable he becomes. If he were real, white America couldn't project all its fantasies of curative black benevolence on him."

To get the full picture, you of course have to read the whole piece, but that paragraph sort of sums it up.

This kind of thing disillusions the hell out of me. Is there any other way to read something like this than, "This guy is a sellout and an Oreo and anyone who likes him secretly just wants to preserve oppressive racial hierarchies"?

There's a truth to Ehrenstein's argument that Obama will garner support from people of various backgrounds who harbor racial prejudice against African Americans. But I don't know why that makes it necessary to rip the man to shreads and brand all his followers dealers in the new slave trade.

I do have two guesses, though:

1) Instead of attempting to propose one's own solution for a systemic problem, it's a whole lot easier to stand back and criticize those who are actually trying to do so.

2) This type of stuff sells newspapers.

I wish I had it in me to put up a more thorough defense, but in the face of such fatalistic mockery, it can be really difficult to justify making the effort.

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Dispatches from the SF International Asian American Film Festival - Part I

Hip Hapa's coverage of this year's SFIAAFF features two intrepid hapa reporters whose skill, dedication, moxy, and insight will bring you the low-down on the hottest film festival in town. Today's entry is brought to you by Elli Nagai-Rothe:

I went to see Na Kamalei: The Men of Hula on Friday, March 16th. It was the first film of the SFIAAFF that was sold out. Indeed, the theater was packed and there was a large contingent of local hula dancers, fans, and supporters. So the energy in the theater was great--very appreciative and happy to share their enthusiasm prior to and during the film.

The film follows the oldest all-male hula group and among other things, addresses stereotypes about men dancing hula, and reveals the touching stories of many of the men in this hula group throughout the group's 30-year history. The highlight of the film is clearly Robert Camizero, the founder and leader of the group. His outspoken personality combined with the passionate dedication of the "hula brothers" over the course of their journey to the Merrie Monarch hula competition is engaging and draws us (well, me at least) into their journey in an way that I quite enjoyed. Also, plenty of hapas in this film!

I found the film moving and very well done. The director of the film, Lisette Marie Flanary, was present for the screening and received a standing ovation from the entire theater once the film finished and before opening for Q & A. I highly recommend watching Na Kamalei, and doing some hip-shaking of your own.

I also saw Dirty Carnival tonight, a Korean gangster film. I'm still processing this film, since it was pretty violent, but very well done. The characters were well developed and the story certainly had a "human" edge, in the sense that it dealt with some of the more complex layers of emotion and psychological investment in gang life. And a plus, the main characters are cuties. ;0) I left the theater thinking, "well, I guess the moral of that story is, gang life doesn't pay." If you like violent movies of gangster hierarchies, this Korean version of Goodfellas is for you.

I didn't get a chance to see Great Happiness Space: A Tale of an Osaka Love Thief, but I can tell you that it was sold out weeks in advance and that the rush line to see the film was ridiculous. So, clearly it's a film festival favorite.

Thanks Elli. Stay tuned for future updates from San Francisco...

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Friday, March 16, 2007

Politically Fashionable

So it looks like we've now got less than a year until things get heavy in this business of picking a new leader for the country. That's right people, California, the national barometer on so many things, will be moving up its primary to February 5 next year, four months earlier than usual. And many other states have done the same, or are considering following suit.

I'll take the opportunity to again hype my choice for that election, and give a little fashion advice at the same time. Last weekend, I went out to the park rocking my new Obama'08 threads--and I was turning heads like Beyoncé.

Just another indication of the incredible magnetism that Barack exudes; I own a lot of crazy tshirts, and none have ever generated such a positive response from complete strangers. So if you want to up your popularity while supporting an important cause, head over to his campaign's online store and cop some of that sexy gear today!

UPDATE: Turns out he'll be here in Oakland tomorrow, right next door to my work, in fact--as I just realized when I walked outside and saw banners posted up all over the place. This bums me out in a big way, as I won't be able to make it due to a prior engagement. But for my Bay Area peeps, check it out--there will be live music, and admission is free. They're asking for RSVPs, however.

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Don't Put Your Labels on Me, Man!


You may think it's contrary to what we're all about, but Hip Hapa now features labels.

With them, you can sort through all our backpages by topic, for everything ever posted on this site. See the little link on the bottom left corner of this post? That one says "announcements." Clicking on it will lay out all of our other posts that also qualify as announcements. Accordingly, each post we do will have a label or three that should allow you to read more about that topic (some samplings: music, race, sports, food, politics) from our complete archives.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Hip Hop Is Dead, Long Live Hip Hop

A few days ago, someone asked me what music I listen to. Instead of saying "hip hop," I said "rap." I'm not sure why exactly, but it probably had something to do with the fact that I knew the guy worked with middle school kids, who I think as a group are plugged in to different channels than I am. I'm guessing their hip hop is not my hip hop, and so using that term, with him drawing on those students for context, wouldn't communicate my preference accurately.

In my mind, rap is a dated word, and so it has less flexibility for interpretation. It resonates strongest within a set historical period (I'd venture the late 70s through the mid 90s), and refers to a specific style of delivering lyrics. It feels concrete.

The word hip hop is more nebulous, defined by neither time nor form. It can be used to describe any number of different things: a song, a beat, a poem, a piece of visual art, a fashion style, a type of dance, a political philosophy, a community, a way of life. And it's not like within each of those categories there's one standardized type, either.

By now, the word is so wide open that two different people can say, "I love hip hop," and completely hate the actual music the other person listens to. Does this happen anywhere else, like with country music? Classical? Jazz? Maybe, but I doubt at the same frequency or intensity.

It's an interesting predicament. The genre has achieved such a large following and received such incredible exposure that it may have lost its power. It's as if its meaning has become dilluted, to the point where if I say I listen to hip hop, I may not have said anything at all.

Have I?


Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Host with the Most: Osaka to SF to Chi-Town

The difficulty I usually have with film festivals is that I tend to get overwhelmed. If it were possible, I'd just camp out in the theater, but time, money, and personal hygiene issues prevent that from going down. Therefore, choices must be made.

For the upcoming San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival, I'm turning to my friend Joanna (since she is a proven expert in cinematic awesomeness) for the first choice:

The Great Happiness Space: Tale Of An Osaka Love Thief is an award winning documentary that takes audiences behind the scenes of Osaka's Café Rakkyo, the city's most glamorous and profitable host bar. Presided over by the enigmatic Issei, not only Rakkyo's owner, but also its number one "host boy," the club offers a modern twist on the ancient Japanese geisha tradition. Here, slick and stylish male hosts entertain young female customers with money to burn by trading compliments and pick up lines for over-priced drinks and in-demand quality one-on-one time. To the denizens of this secret society, mostly made up of showgirls and prostitutes, an escape from their everyday lives complete with the heart-warming attention of a good looking guy is just a dollar away. But as this absorbing film suggests through poignant interviews with Issei's co-workers and committed regular customers, the line between work and life is easily blurred once emotional attachments are formed. And the real toll of all night parties and expensive bottles of champagne are more than most Rakkyo regulars can bare.

Jo is actually promoting the film for the Chicago International Documentary Festival, so if you happen to reside in the Windy City, you can catch a screening as well--schedule & venue information is posted here. For details on the San Francisco engagements, click here.

More SFIAAFF posts to come!

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Friday, March 09, 2007

Your Shot at Fame & Fortune

Heard on the Hapa Hotline:

Mixed Up Productions is currently accepting submissions of written and visual works for an anthology by and about mixed race Asian and Pacific Islander artists.

The project began as a trilogy of limited edition "Hapa" chapbooks: "Mixed Up" (2000), "Too Mixed Up" (2000), and "All Mixed Up" (2006). Currently, public readings, film screenings, and other events are taking place throughout Canada and the U.S. for the final chapbook. Entirely handcrafted, each individual chapbook is unique in its cover design.

The forthcoming anthology will include contributions from all three chapbooks, as well as a fourth section on new, unpublished works. In the tradition of the original chapbooks, the anthology will contain a wide range of works spanning poetry, short stories, monologues,
performance art, visual art, scholarly essays, activist statements, and photography.


You may submit as many pieces as you wish; however, total word count for text should not exceed 2,500. Please submit photographs/images as jpeg or tiff format. Although images will be printed in black and white, please submit color images (if available).

To submit

Only electronic submissions are accepted. Please send your name, contact information, and a one-paragraph bio with your submission(s) to:


Editors James Lawrence Ardeña and Brandy Liên Worrall will make final selections.
The deadline for submissions is April 30, 2007.


Thursday, March 08, 2007

Hapas Are So Photogenic

I feel sorta bad that it took me this long, since I walk past this every day on my way to work, but better late than never.

This exhibit has been at Oakland's Front Gallery since early February, and will continue to be on display through March 27. I ventured inside last week for First Fridays, and as one might guess, it's a bunch of pictures of half Asian people. You can check out the artists' website; it actually offers more images than are currently featured at the gallery.

And yeah, my initial thought was that it had sort of been done before, too, but I guess these guys have been at it since 2001.


Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Warts & All

The problem with political campaigns--okay, there's more than just one, but I'm trying to focus here--is that they inevitably shed light on the less desirable aspects of your candidate. I'd been meaning to offer a thought or two on this problem a while ago, but The New York Times decided to force my hand today.

The questions raised about Obama's investments strike me as relatively insignificant, but they've registered the greatest tremor on the scandal scale thus far. Opponents now have something more tangible to cite when criticizing him--although personally, I feel like I've recently learned things about the guy that are more troubling (like his Senate vote cast in favor of the wall along the US/Mexico border, or his support of a civil-liberties-impinging law targetted at child molesters that sounds ineffectual at preventing crime yet likely to generate voter approval).

Our icons, regardless of the realm they occupy (government, the arts, professional sports, etc.), are supported by public relations machines that boost their profile and make them seem like swell folks, but even in the face of all that hype, it takes willful ignorance or absurd naviette to pretend like they don't have flaws. In the months to come, I'm expecting to see more of this kind of dirt about all of the folks who seek the top job at the White House in 2008, and have already braced for it. And at this point, it's going to take the dead-bodies-buried-in-the-basement kind of story for me to give up the Obama cause.

No president is going to be perfect, that's a given. But we know that with this candidate, we'll get a positive net result, and for practical purposes, that's what matters.


Tuesday, March 06, 2007

"The Third Hand" Kinda Sucks & Other Consumer Culture Discontents

I usually buy my music from stores--what a dated concept, right? It's just that I like to support artists, and I buy into the idea that they should receive money for their hard work. Moreover, I like owning art objects, even when they're mass-produced ones like books and CDs; in fact, come to think of it, those are the only kinds of art objects I can really afford anyway (branding me in some negative consumerist culture kind of way, whatever, let's save it for another post).

My point is this: Days like today make me rethink this strategy. I walk into the record store, plunk down some dough for RJD2's latest, bring it to work, play it, and promptly vomit in the garbage can. Okay, not really, and it's not completely wack, but (a) it's not work I want to give him financial support for and (b) it's not something I feel good about sitting on my shelf. I feel kind of embarassed to own it, to have validated its existence with my money.

It's disappointing that I can't bank on a musician's work to the point where I can just buy it blind, but I guess I should be more realistic. I don't know what got into dude's head that he decided it was a groovy idea to start singing (singing?!?), or why he felt it wasn't necessary to include any kind of beat on half the songs, but that's his perogative, and the responsibility is mine to do a little research before I make that purchase. I still feel cheated though; if I knew what emo was, I think this would be it.

Ugh. Makes me want to hop on the illegal download bandwagon.

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Saturday, March 03, 2007

Custom Kicks!

Checkout Pesu's latest custom-made sneakers. If you like them make your bid!