Joy Tang

Getting Seconds: 'Our Daily Bread' Returns to Counterpulse this November

Our Daily Bread – a multidisciplinary
dance production that brings narrative life to the intersection of food
justice, heritage, eating, and environmental sustainability – makes its way
back to Counterpulse (San Francisco) November 15-18, 2012.

The People's Artist: Senbei at Hyphen Generations 25/10 Celebration

In anticipation of our 25th Issue/10th Anniversary celebration, Hyphen talks with musician, scholar, educator, and community leader Senbei a.k.a. Colin Ehara, who will be performing at Hyphen's Generations: 25/10 bash on June 30 in San Francisco.

Senbei answered some questions over email about how his relationship to hip-hop began, how he perceives his role as an Asian American hip-hop artist, and who and what inspires him. 

San Francisco's 33rd Ethnic Dance Festival: Behind the Scenes!

The San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival, now in its 33rd year, is a huge, 5-weekend extravaganza that features 50 performance companies working within traditional music and dance genres. But as many of us living in the Bay Area already know, it is also a showcase for virtuosic local talent, for every single "traditional" dance performer must also be a Bay Area resident.

Final Week of San Francisco's 'A Sensory Feast'

Photo credit: JJ Casas

Calling all San Francisco Hyphenites! A reminder that A Sensory Feast with Kearny Street Workshop and SOMArts will close this week, Feb 24 to be precise. So, if you want to see a show by local AsAm artists where you can not only look at stuff, but touch and smell stuff too, you gotta do it soon.

In the spirit of a feast for all senses final blow-out, I'll cut the chit-chat. See and decide for yourself. The following are images of the show by JJ Casas and Patrick Rafanan.


Food for all Senses: Kearny Street Workshop's "A Sensory Feast"

A Sensory Feast, presented by SOMArts and Kearny Street Workshop, opened on Friday, Feb 4, and I -- lured by the promise of free admission and Senor Sisig and art that also had food in it -- emerged from my bedroom. I put on clothes, gritted my teeth, and prepared to have fun.

San Francisco Theater Scoop: 'Dancing on Glass' by Ram Ganesh Kamatham

"You are getting to know the inner me!" photo courtesy of Virginia Rodrigues

Dancing on Glass, a work by Ram Ganesh Kamatham, premieres in North America at San Francisco's Counterpulse. It opens today at 8 pm. Finally, this girl has a reason to get out of her pajamas on a Friday night and into a seat at the theater.

Judging from the pre-press for this play, I know two things.

Love by the Mouthful: Review of Mission Chinese Food

I walk into Lung Shan Restaurant and read the sign just inside the door: “Mission Chinese Food, sit anywhere.” Around the one-room restaurant on the corner of 18th and Mission Street, Christmas lights hang low on the walls. On each table sits a vase holding a single silk rose.

In short, MCF seems like a typical, if romantically-lit, Chinese restaurant. But there is nothing common about this place -- not the menu, not the owner, least of all the food.

When Reality Looks Like Me: The RAMS' 35th Anniversary Gala Review

Tammy and Victor Jih are really tall.

As promised, I attended Richmond Area Multi-Services (RAMS') 35th Anniversary Gala on May 12th. Themed "Changing Reality: the Voices of Asian American TV Stars," RAMS sought to connect reality television to mental health. So that night, TV show champions Tammy and Victor Jih (Amazing Race, Season 14), Chloe Dao (Project Runway, Season 2), Chef Hung Huynh (Top Chef, Season 3) and Dr. Pamela Ling (Real World, Season 3) took the stage. They were introduced by Senator Leeland Yee, who called the panel "one large group therapy."

RAMS' 35th Anniversary Gala Features AsAm TV Stars

Wanting to be seen and heard is common for those of us circumscribed by "silent Asian" stereotypes. Though, between you and me, I find this stereotype boring.

"Why are people still talking about this?" I think to myself. And then I remember. I was that college kid who walked the library with copies of Lucille Clifton and Gwendolyn Brooks tucked under my arm, wondering "Where are the women poets who scream for me? Where are the Asian American women who yell 'See me! Hear me!'"

Bravo for Bravado: 'Macho Bravado' Premieres at Thick House

I want to say a lot about Macho Bravado, an in-house work premiering with Asian American Theater Company. I want to say it has some uneven bits. The doctor character, for example, is kind of a wuss.  Also I have to wonder if we needed an old Western, broadcast from a television onstage, to bludgeon home the central theme of the play -- macho bravado, in case anyone had missed it.

But what I want to say most of all is that this production has heart.

One Pie or Separate Crumbs?: John Delloro Unpacks UCSD's Compton Cookout for AsAms

If February has gone by and you haven’t heard of UCSD’s “Compton Crime,” as I like to call it, then it’s time. On February 18, UCSD’s students received Facebook invitations to a “Compton Cookout.”

In it, women were encouraged to come as "ghetto chicks" wearing "cheap clothes" and "gold teeth," to "start fights and drama." Men were asked to be "stuntin' up in ya White T (XXXL smallest size acceptable)." All this, the page claimed, was to celebrate Black History Month.

Philip Kan Gotanda on '#5 Angry Red Drum,' AsAm Theater, and Writing Identity

Thumbnail image for PKG.jpg

This past weekend saw the closing of Philip Kan Gotanda's #5 Angry Red Drum at San Francisco's Thick House. So now that we can't spoil any surprises, Hyphen is pleased to offer this exclusive interview with Phillip himself, as promised. When Philip and I spoke, he was sitting in a car with his dog, and I was at home, nursing a fever with lemons and hot water. Which is only to say, that we got down to the meaty stuff pretty quickly.

I asked him not only about this latest play, but also about his experience of the play within the canon of Asian American theater. Did he feel that his play added to that tradition if it did not explicitly address "traditional" Asian American themes? Phillip addressed my questions with incredible candor, I felt. And the result is, yes, some secrets to a dense piece of theater, but also something Hyphen readers crave -- insight into how our leaders interact with the ever-evolving term "Asian American."

Keep reading for the interview below.

'#5 Angry Red Drum' by Phillip Kan Gotanda: If Beckett Were Asian American...

Phillip Kan Gotanda's #5 Angry Red Drum, presented by Asian American Theater Company and currently playing its last weekend at Thick House, is accurately described by several sites as a work in which "Beckett meets Burning Man." #5 ARD doesn't employ a familiar narrative arc, nor does it give its viewers any other safety nets. Go prepared: You're on your own when it comes to meaning-making. The play comprises a handful of characters knocking about on a sand-covered set and periodically groveling before a red drum. You don't know if it's all nonsense or if it's just too darned deep.

But at the end of the day, this play really moved me. This is a terribly tragic and funny piece. (A tragicomedy, perhaps? Word.) Several times I found my body on the edge of its seat, leaning precariously over those sitting below me, laughing aloud.

Deep Questions: What puts the Oriental in Oriental-flavored Ramen?

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Instantnoodles.jpgI haven't eaten Top Ramen in years. I was raised on it. But sometime during high school I ramened out and never returned. Only today did these microwavable pleasures hurtle back into my sphere of awareness. It
went like this. I heard my roommate say to her friend, "Hey, so beef-flavored or Oriental-flavored ramen?"

Mayor of Roses

I grew up in a country of torrid heat, a country that, if I were to try and describe it, might be summed up simply by saying that the smells were not like anything we know here. The smells I remember were pungent smells of raw meat, blood, and rotting garbage, of human sweat. The sun beat down constantly.

In that country, I heard stories. It didn’t matter whether they were true or untrue. The last time I was home, visiting Manila, I asked my mother, “What ever became of your friend, the one who had all her clothes stolen during a hold-up?”

The Arrival

A flood of cities overwhelms

our whelping scarves. O ingenue of distance,

we shall infuse Pasadena

with vernacular after vernacular. Airports meant

for athletes to dive off of are human ports

stunned in avowal.

Trucked along cold coast upon golden coast,

we are the grand luggage of strawberries

juggled through meridians, makings

beyond the Pacific undertow.

The arc of the mortal flashes its kaleidoscope:

our twists of light do not succumb

to interstates, to smog-stunned horoscopes.


MARIANNE VILLANUEVA is the author of the short story collections Mayor of the Roses and Ginseng and Other Tales From Manila, a finalist for the Philippine National Book Award. Villanueva’s writing has appeared in numerous publications such as Calyx, The Literary Review, Puerto del Sol, The Threepenny Review and ZYZZYVA. Her short story “Silence” was selected as a finalist for the 1999 O. Henry Literature Prize.

Big plans on the small screen:

Must-see Asian American TV

The high-flying success of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’s sword fights has helped spawn a mini-surge in Asian American television programming.

Two half-hour magazine-style shows, a reality show and a network marketed toward English-speaking Asian Americans have debuted recently, hoping to cash in on the Asian-pop trend and on a demographic group that has always been economically attractive.

Total Recall:

After getting discharged 13 years ago by the Army, what would it be like to get a letter ordering you to serve in Iraq?

After getting discharged 13 years ago by the Army, what would it be like to get a letter ordering you to serve in Iraq? In September 2004, Gulf War veteran David Miyasato—now married with a child—found out. This is his story.


The Best Form of Flattery:

Hollywood’s answer to those pesky foreign languages.

Remakes are the rage in Hollywood—and producers have rediscovered Asian film plots as a new alternative to actual creativity. Martin Scorsese is looking to Americanize Hong Kong’s Infernal Affairs, Gurinder Chadha is directing the remake of Korea’s My Sassy Girl, and U.S. studios are snapping up options for scores of other Asian scripts with names like The Eye, The Phone, The Ghost and Chaos. But is something lost in translation? Hyphen examines America’s proud history of copying Japanese invention.

The Seven Samurai (Japan, 1954)


How to spot an Asianpile

Have you ever started dating people just to find out later that the main reason they’re interested in you is that you’re of the Asian persuasion? We have. And it made us feel icky. In an effort to save you from the same fate, we’ve pulled together a list of a few warning signs.


2. Greets you with an Asian salutation.

3. Admires the silken quality of your skin.

4. Refers to previous girlfriends of the same ethnicity as you.

5. Explains the spiritual significance of her Asian tattoo to you.