I had never heard of singer Meiko until my partner came across her music on MySpace, but instantly recognized some of her songs. She's had several on Grey's Anatomy and another TV show. Songs on TV dramas are usually not that exciting, but we were surprised to discover some nice tracks -- and definitely a nice voice -- on her new album, which is available now on iTunes (her original album was self-released). The physical album will be out Sept. 9, and she'll be performing on Late Night with Conan O'Brien Sept. 11.
By now, you may have heard about the Save KoreAm campaign. If you haven't, KoreAm is a Korean American magazine that's been around for 18 years, a lifetime in Asian Am magazine years. Staffers at the magazine recently launched this campaign to reach out to the wider community for support.
I talked to the President of KoreAm Journal, James Ryu, on the phone yesterday, to clarify some things about what's going on at KoreAm. If anything happens, we may be short of not one, but two Asian American publications, since KoreAm also publishes Audrey, an Asian American women's magazine.
Basically over the last year and a half, they've had a huge dip in advertising -- nearly 30 percent -- which makes up 70-75 percent of their revenue, according to Ryu. He said the staff met as a whole to see what to do -- cut 20 percent of the jobs, or cut everyone's pay by 20 percent. The staff decided they would all take the pay cuts to save their jobs. There are currently 11 staffers at KoreAm and Audrey, based in Los Angeles.
I've been meaning to write about this upcoming film called "New Orleans: A Village Called Versailles," a PBS FRONTLINE/World documentary by S. Leo Chiang. A 15-minute rough cut is now online.
I really look forward to seeing the film, which tells the story of a tight-knit Vietnamese American community in New Orleans East known as Versailles. The community of thousands of Vietnamese families, mostly Catholic, have largely resettled and rebuilt after Hurricane Katrina. Though Dateline did an inspiring and emotional story on Versailles last year, it largely painted the folks of Versailles as a model minority community. And as I've complained about before, the Asian American experience was missing from "When the Levees Broke" -- as great and important a film as it is -- so I'm glad this film is being made.
Interested in honing your creative writing skills and you live in L.A.? Asian American Poetry and Writing (AAPW), a newish group started by Ky-Phong Paul Tran, is hosting writing workshops at the Japanese American National Museum near downtown Los Angeles this fall. The classes sound pretty cool--introduction to fiction, introduction to poetry, memoir/personal writing, and screenwriting. The instructors are Noel Alumit, Neil Aitken, Naomi Hirahara and Koji Steven Sakai. Sounds like a nice line up. To see a full list of class descriptions, go here.
The group also has original articles. A couple of new ones include an interview with Kawita Kandpal, author of "Folding a River," by Hyphen contributor Ching-In Chen. Vanessa Hua, formerly of the San Francisco Chronicle, also has a piece on Berkeley-based indie publisher Kaya Press. Check out AAPW here!
This is, in Ky-Phong's words, a totally "DIY" (do-it-yourself) operation so spread the love to folks you know in the Los Angeles area who might be interested!
Here's a piece from today's Democracy Now! about the case of Hiu Lui Ng, an immigrant from Hong Kong who died earlier this month after being detained by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for a year.
According to an interview with Ng's (who also went by Jason Ng) lawyer Joshua Bardavid, Ng was a "healthy, robust" man before being jailed. Here's an excerpt from the interview:
AMY GOODMAN: Well, let's talk about what happened when he went into the detention facility. Was he healthy, as far as he knew, when he went in?
JOSHUA BARDAVID: He was a healthy, robust man.
AMY GOODMAN: Thirty-four.
JOSHUA BARDAVID: Thirty-four. No history of medical problems.
AMY GOODMAN: Very tall?
JOSHUA BARDAVID: Average height, average height. And he was slowly deteriorated as he was through the various facilities.
I just read on Angry Asian Man about the death of Hiu Lui Ng, who recently died under custody of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Please read the entire story in the New York Times, and prepare to be enraged.
The man was dying of cancer in his lungs, liver and bones -- and had a spinal fracture. At the age of 34. It sounds like he was denied real care, over and over and over again because it was only right before he died that the cancer was detected.
He was continually harrassed by ICE staff the whole time he was suffering from all of this.Tortured. And they didn't believe him when he said he was in pain.
On top of that, it sounds like he was retaliated against by ICE. According to the article:
"In federal court affidavits, Mr. Ng's lawyers contend that when he complained of severe pain that did not respond to analgesics, and grew too weak to walk or even stand to call his family from a detention pay phone, officials accused him of faking his condition. They denied him a wheelchair and refused pleas for an independent medical evaluation.Instead, the affidavits say, guards at the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility in Central Falls, R.I., dragged him from his bed on July 30, carried him in shackles to a car, bruising his arms and legs, and drove him two hours to a federal lockup in Hartford, where an immigration officer pressured him to withdraw all pending appeals of his case and accept deportation."
Hey filmmakers, here's your opportunity to show your labor of love at the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival (aka SFIAAFF or "sfee-aff") hosted by the Center for Asian American Media (formerly known as NAATA). Here's their call for entries for their 27th annual festival coming up March 2009 in the Bay Area. There's a bunch of categories, including short films.
According to CAAM, the festival is the largest showcase of Asian and Asian Am films, like, ever. Seriously, though, I've been going since 1996 and it's one of the highlights of the year, always showcasing some new talent as well as some veteran filmmakers, like Spencer Nakasako and Wayne Wang, among many, many others. It seems to get bigger and better each year.
In other film news, catch a screening of a new film: "Project Kashmir" is screening in NY and LA, a documentary by Senain Kheshgi and Geeta V. Patel, about Kashmir. Playing August 8 to 14 at the Village Cinema East in New York, at August 22 to 28 at the Arclight Hollywood in Los Angeles.
Okay, I have only been sort of following the real-life drama between Spike Lee and Clint Eastwood. I'm sure we don't even know the whole lot of it, especially since the media is quick to jump on racial conflict like this.
I have to say that I have a lot of respect for Spike Lee and his work, and I am also a fan of some recent Eastwood flicks. I appreciate Spike Lee for the messages in his films, about African American male role models and families (think "Crooklyn," and even that not all that great made-for-TV movie "Sucker Free City"). I liked Eastwood's "Letters from Iwo Jima" because it humanizes, in my mind, not just Japanese soldiers but Asian people in general. I know that is a simplistic way of looking at it, but when I see an Asian person on screen, I identify with them, even if they are not Chinese like me. The whole cast was practically Asian, and that is unusual for a Hollywood film, by a white director, no less.
I haven't seen "Flags of our Fathers," the subject of the debate, so I won't comment much on that.
But I do know that if we're talking about historical accuracy, they've both got some more work to do.
So I knew that right about now we'd start seeing the stories about Chinese and Chinese Americans getting married on the magical date, 8/8/08, which is manana. If I were still at my old paper, I probably would've been compelled to write a similar story about local Chinese Americans headed down the aisle, or to the local courthouse.
Remember last year at 7/7/07? The same thing happened. I mean, damn, 777 is pretty lucky but 888? Never again shall we see such auspicious numbers. I can understand why people are drawn to this date. In Chinese culture, the number 8 is pronounced something like "ba" (in Mandarin) which sounds like "fa," which means fortune, or that you will get a crapload of money at some point down the road.
I'd grown up hearing this, of course. You might know Chinese people who pick their address or home based on some lucky numbers, or their license plates or phone numbers and what not.
Check out this story by my colleague about a local artist, who appears to be African American, who decided to schedule his art show's opening on the lucky day.
I'm only slightly poking fun at this phenomenon cause I believe it too. I mean, I'll take an 8 over a 4 any day (4 sounding a whole lot like "death," of course). And when I plan big events like baby showers and stuff, I also look up auspicious dates. I am not above all this Chinese numerology/superstitious hoopla.
And as we know, the Olympics start tomorrow on 8/8/08 at 8:08 p.m. (that's FIVE 8s, not four, thank goodness).
Do you know anyone who's getting married tomorrow? If you are a newlywed or are planning a wedding, did this date cross your mind?
Today marks the 63rd year after the U.S. dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing more than 200,000 and physically, mentally and psychologically harming many, many more.
The mayor of Hiroshima, Tadatoshi Akiba, is apparently trying to get the U.S. to sign a nuclear arms abolition treaty. So far, the U.S. is one of three countries that hasn't signed, while 170 other countries have. Akiba is also launching a study on the psychological damage done by the a-bombs dropped on August 6th, 2008.
It seems like there are some U.S. peace activities around this day, including in Manhasset, NY, where Japanese American children reportedly were to give out paper cranes, a sign of peace. Apparently this day is commemorated around the world with peace vigils and marches.
The previous issue of Hyphen is available in its entirety for your perusing pleasure. Almost as good as having it right in your hands!