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The I-Hotel reopened yesterday, 26 years after elderly Asian American immigrants were literally dragged from their apartments and the building was demolished. All for the rising properly values in the Financial District. Lawsuits ensued, protestors and senators got involved, and now a 15-story building is opening in the old Manilatown. It not only has low-cost senior housing, but a community center and a rooftop garden. Sounds really nice. Has anyone checked it out yet?
Read about the I-Hotel here in today's SF Chronicle.
The East Bay Express has some coverage on two Asian American music acts this week. First, a story on Golda Supernova, in all her superb divaness. The story also goes a bit into the Pinoy arts scene, the efforts of Bindlestiff to become a bonafide nonprofit, and why some people (Golda included) would rather it not.
The same writer also has a story on Bento, a local alternative rock band that apparently has a devoted following of swooning girls. If the name sounds familiar to you, maybe it's because we reviewed them in issue 6. You can swoon over them yourself Sunday when they play at the Oakland Chinatown Street Fest.
Guest blog by Alex Nishikawa
As I venture through the city I notice an increasing amount of stencil work upon the walls and sidewalks. I've had the chance to talk to some of the people who align themselves with this fad and asked them what they term their activity. Some of them call it graffiti, while others call it art. Some straddle the line and consider it both. Rare are those who are honest about it and call it what it is; stenciling. So I post this question to the dedicated readers of this blog forum...
What do you consider it?
I think by calling it graffiti art, they discredit and insult both the graffiti subculture as well as those who consider themselves artists. Are they artists, really, or merely glorified tracers who "cleverly" speak in bumper sticker catch-phrases in an attempt to make some sort of witty social commentary? I think they need to stop fooling themselves. If we call stencilers artists, in my opinion, we might as well start considering someone who uses a copy machine to be Michelangelo incarnate.
However, I must admit there are some exceptions to this. There are some innovators, such as Robert Banks, who effectively use stencils to enhance their art and to communicate messages to the populace. Unfortunately individuals such as he are just that; exceptions. The bulk seem to be imitators or...duplicators? *Gasp*
I suppose it was merely a matter of time before the cut and paste mentality that is imbued in many art and design courses permeated society at large. Maybe what they do is art after all...just really bad art...
Yesterday I received a surprise gift. (That's the best kind, the surprise kind.) It was green totebag with two badminton rackets. It says "badminton" in a curly script, just so no one gets confused about what's going on here and mistakes it for some other racket sport. Now, I don't have any special affinity for the sport. I think I tried to play a game once some 15 years ago. Basically I know nada, so I thought I'd do a little reading up in case anyone asked me "why badminton?" (Why not?!)
Turns outs that Asians rock this sport. Two Asian Americans, Tony Gunawan and Howard Bach just won the World Badminton Championship in men's doubles. Bach is a SF local too and grew up in the Tenderloin. The US team beat out the Indonesian team to grab the title. (Gunawan is originally from Indonesia and is a celebrity there.) The list of winners is a list of Asian names. Indonesia's Olympic champion Taufik Hidayat won the men's singles and China's Xie Xingfang won the women's singles.
Hey Bay Area folks, piNoisepop the Asian American underground music fest starts today at Bindlestiff Studios. Three days of music coming your way. Kris Racer of Chicago, whom we reviewed a couple issues ago, will be playing tonight. Tomorrow night at SomArts Cultural Center another band we wrote about, Say Bok Gwai (that's Canto for "Damn white guy"), takes the stage with local luminary Golda Supernova. From Monument to Masses and The Skyflakes play Saturday.
Read about piNoisepop here in the San Jose Mercury (You have to sign in. Boo!)
Most of you probably know by now that Hyphen is an all-volunteer effort. Yup, all the writers, editors, photographers, business staff, the folks who mail your subscriptions -- they all have day jobs (if they aren't in school or in between jobs.) But some of us have better day jobs than others. Take our contributing music editor, Todd Inoue, who works by day at the San Jose Metro. OK, I know that it's not every week that an alternative newsweekly can afford to send Todd to review a bunch of spas. But still, how can we not be totally jealous?
So, I was home sick from work yesterday and ended up watching The Fabulous Life of Celebrity Weddings on VH1. I attended FOUR weddings this summer and am now well-versed in the intensity and craziness that is an Indian wedding. The term BLING was created for Indian nuptials. My boyfriend and I were joking about how these Hollywood types don’t have shit on Indians and how the real show would feature fabulous Indian weddings, complete with horses and elephants and a bride worth her weight in gold. And then – it happened! This show featuring Christina Aguilera’s engagement ring and Donald Trump’s wife’s $200,000 wedding dress, featured an Indian wedding held at Versailles this June – which was apparently the most expensive wedding ever. This wedding was held by Indian steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal, whose net worth is somewhere in the ballpark of $54 billion, for his 23-year-old daughter Vanisha. Apparently, the wedding of the universe was all over the British and Indian media. As excited as I get to see South Asian culture getting props on MTV and VHI, I have to admit that this opulence makes me feel pretty disgusted.
Esther Wong, the 'Godmother of Punk, died on Sunday at age 88. She showcased acts like Oingo Boingo, the Police, X, the Ramones, the Motels, 20/20, the Knack, the Know, the Textones, the Go-Gos, the Plimsouls, the Nu-Kats, the Bus Boys, Plane English, the Naughty Sweeties and others at her club, Madame Wong's. Obituary here in the L.A. Times
I never quite understood exactly how it works between the native Americans and our government --casinos, reservations, census data? But at any rate, some Native Hawaiians are fighting to get similar status. Listen the the NPR story here. The argument is that Hawaii was a sovereign nation, until the U.S. government came and took it over --just like they did the rest of the country. Some people think Akaka's bill doesn't go far enough, and Hawaii should be totally free from US rule.