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The day after Thanksgiving, on what they call Black Friday, I was awoken by a phone call. It was from my sister and mother, who were pawing their way through an outlet mall. They had called to say they wished I was there to help with the shopping. (I suppose it's a tradition in my family, like so many other people's -- this shopping on the busiest shopping day.) They were a few hours ahead of me in Texas, so I forgave them for calling so early, mumbled a few words of encouragement, and fell back asleep. Later in the day, they called again to tell me what spoils they had won. The were at the mall for about 4 hours and had only managed to go to 3 stores. "We didn't even get to look at handbags and shoes!" my mother exclaimed. And I knew she would have stayed another 3 hours to look at handbags and shoes if only other family functions had not gotten in the way.
There's a story in today's SF Chronicle about Asian American entertainers becoming stars overseas. The first couple paragraphs sums it up nicely: audition for bit parts in Hollywood playing stereotypes, or take a gamble in Asia where you have a better chance of interesting work, even if you can't speak an Asian language.
R.I.P. Pat Morita, forever immortalized as Mr. Miyagi on The Karate Kid and formerly of Happy Days fame. A pioneering Asian American actor, comedian, and internment camp survivor, Morita was the first Asian American actor I ever saw in a lead role on the big screen.
There's been a lot in the news lately about overachieving Asian American students. You've probably already heard about the book above. The Korean American sisters who wrote it were recently profiled in the New York Times, extolling the virtues of strict Asian parenting. (Neither of them are educators or parents for that matter.) Their message seemed to be, "Hey, we're not really all that smart and neither are other Asians. We just work really hard and our parents made us do it!" Now, lucky you, they’ve written this book so that you non-Asians can learn these mysterious Asian secrets and succeed too!
An Asian American guy with a really bad haircut looks out from my TV screen. "All my life, I wanted to be an American," he says. "I'm sansei, that means I'm the third generation to be born in this country." I missed big chunks of the rest of the commercial because of the yelling. My yelling. Have you seen this spot? It's on PBS. The guy goes on to say that his family was interned during the war, and that he always wanted to be an American but never felt like one until he saw Ken Burn's Civil War documentary on PBS.
OK, so this is not exactly serious hard news here, but we could all use a little hard body news once in a while... Daniel Dae Kim has made People magazine's "Sexiest Man Alive" list. On their website, you can see some of the photos of those who made the list, which includes the usual suspects (Matt Damon, Matthew McConaughey, blah blah). Vince Vaughn made the list (eh?) and there's a really super cheesy photo of Mr. Jessica Simpson (or maybe not anymore, is the ring on or off?) -- Nick Lachey. But who cares, back to Daniel.
Hello Hyphen readers. I'm back in town after traveling for two weeks. First, had to travel to a conference for my day job. I came back to the Bay Area just in time to vote, then packed my bags again for my hometown, Houston. I glossed over election news on my way to the airport.
Last week I turned in my last story to Civiane (copy editor) and Cielo (art director) to take forward into the newly glossy realm of print existence in Hyphen. The story -- an investigation/"think-piece" by Wendy Cheng on the new role Vietnamese Americans can play in post-Katrina New Orleans -- is just the kind of story I imagined, even dreamed about, Hyphen producing when we first started the magazine. My dream Hyphen story combined political passion, investigative journalism, theoretical savvy, writing chops, and an ability/willingness to speculate, dream, prescribe, and stick one's neck out. Did this piece hit all of these notes perfectly? No, of course not. But for me, after struggling through eight issues to learn how to be an editor, finally getting to edit such a piece is ... satisfaction indeed.