Attack Mode

For Earnest Concepcion, the only constant is change.

WHEN ERNEST CONCEPCION arrived in the United States from the Philippines, he found himself living in suburban New Jersey with his older sister Boredom led him to wage epic wars on paper between armies of the banal: coffee against milk, priests versus praying mantises, tits fighting asses. Though conflict is pivotal to the way we conceive the world, the punny binary the series remind us of Its absurdity,

Sex and the City Not So Pretty

Raise your hands if you thought the new 'Sex and the City' blew chunks.

- Largely plotless

- Horrible pacing

- Couldn't make myself care if any of the characters were happy, sad, getting laid or not getting laid.

- I'm not categorically against interracial adoption, but Charlotte's little girl Lily (of Chinese provenance) ended up a mascot to four rich white ladies. She even parrots the word "sex" when answering one of their cellphones.

- Jennifer Hudson as Carrie's personal assistant was just... weird. It seemed set up as an SATC foray into black subjectivity. You have five siblings? Wow! and wow!

- As Anthony Lane says in his New Yorker slam, the winner for "most revealing line in the film" is "Miranda's outburst as she hunts for an apartment in a mainly Chinese district: 'White guy with a baby! Let's follow him.' So that's what drives these people: Aryan real estate."

Zombie Strippers Director Jay Lee on the Absurd, Jenna Jameson and the Business of Horror


"Zombie Strippers," starring porn queen Jenna Jameson and horror icon Robert Englund (a k a Freddy Krueger) opened this weekend in a limited platform release.

At Rhinos, a strip club in BF, Idaho -- Sartre, Nebraska, to be exact -- run by proprietor Ian Essko (Robert Englund), the horny clientele can only get in with a membership card. That's because George W. Bush, now in his fourth term, has banned public nudity, turning stripping into a speakeasy tea. The star pole-vaulter, Kat (Jenna Jameson), dominates the show. When a commando-turned-zombie seeks refuge in the club following a botched zombie extermination attempt at a nearby government laboratory, who does he want to munch down on? Kat, of course, but straddling life and death as a zombie oddly makes her better at her job. The guys are going bananas! Soon all the girls want in, and what follows is a zombie situation out of control.

Fascinated by the film's supposed political dimension, as well as the "Existential Philosophy Primer 101" that I received in the press packet (who does that?) which outlines its relationship to Eugene Ionesco's absurdist play "The Rhinoceros," I had to find out just what the hell was up with this highbrow-lowbrow stew of grindhouse-meets-French-intellectual-nutball. Just before the Saturday night screenings in San Francisco, I caught up with director, writer and cinematographer Jay Lee at an Italian restaurant around the corner from the theater.

They Might Not Be Giants -- Olympic Torch Conundrums

I loves me a good protest.

When it was clear that it was only a matter of days before the current Iraq war became official, I made sure that my boss and co-workers knew that I would not be coming into work. And when it was, I yelled my way through the early morning to midnight.

When I get swept up into a random march, my pulse races.

I cry at footage of mai '68.

And yet, there's something about the news of the Olympics protests in London and Paris that makes me... sad. Though my affection for the sports extravaganza has not gone beyond gymnastics circa 1984, and for all the revelations of performance-enhancing drugs shattering the athlete mythos, the fact that the torch has to hide out on a bus, extinguished, is an epic bummer.

I Would Give Ken Leung My Lungs

(Photo: ABC)

Though we're a couple months into Season 4 of Lost, I just had to say that I'm really enjoying watching Ken Leung on the telly -- or rather, my laptop.

He charmed me in last year's rotoscoped, admittedly saccharine, fairy tale feature Year of the Fish (but now I am thoroughly sick of people talking to goldfish in films), and when I saw him standing across the way at last year's SFIAAFF I wanted to run up to him and jump into his arms and ask him to rescue me.

Miles Straume, his swarthy Lost character, is the most fascinating of the new batch and arguably of the entire show. Not only is Miles a daredevil jerk with a temper, but he's a fricking medium. He talks to dead people! I totally dug the scene in Episode 2 where he's channeling the dead druggie kid and the room starts to get all crazy.

Also in my notes: Not so cool on TV -- Kal Penn in House.

Hybrid Issue Release Party


Come toast with a mixed drink at the Hyphen Hybrid Issue release party!

Friday, February 1
111 Minna, San Francisco
9pm - 2am
21+ w/ ID

Subscriptions at 50% off retail price! Also, Nintendo Wii raffle!

Throw down your moves as Malicious Lee, DJ Franchise, DJ Psani, Modest Mark and SteveDa5eight spin mashed beats late into the night. Enjoy mixed musical messages by Cast of Thousands, Goh Nakamura and Aesthetics Crew.

But most of all, join us as we celebrate our latest release, the Hybrid Issue. Be sure to pick up a copy of the magazine to check out our stories on feminist porn, South Asian hip hop, rising Asian American fashion designers and much more of the art, literature and cultural reviews you can't live without!

Co-sponsored by CAA.

Best of Both Worlds

O, yes to boxer briefs

For those still mulling over how to solve the perennial debate between boxers and briefs, look no further. And if you're wearing these, your partner won't either. While working a stint at Victoria's secret retail, O Boxers designer Analisa Shah realized that there just aren't that many options for guys in the underworld. After extensive testing, Shah and her business partner devised a custom fiber blend cut for maximum comfort. They come just in basic black for now, but more colors are slated for the holidays. The ecoconscious packaging is a reusable tin that makes a great pencil box.

The Search for the Perfect Comeback

Through the years I've been trying to perfect my comeback. You know, when you're walking down the street, minding your own goddamn business, and some asshole decides to add some heinous, unsolicited commentary to the soundtrack of your life. And then you have a few precious moments of reaction to turn the table of power, to slip your razor-sharp verbal wit and make the offender realize their own fundamental asshole-ness.

Bruce or Bust Party for Finishing the Game, Plus Far*east Movement

Finishing the Game: actors Roger Fan, Dustin Nguyen, director Justin Lin, producer Julie Asato

Thanks to everyone who made it out last Friday to Bruce or Bust, Hyphen's opening night party for Finishing the Game. The place was packed! We were excited to help promote independent Asian American films and toss a few back at the same time. Double whammy.

Chinita Nibs


Sometimes, when I dislike a thing without basis — say, a film that I haven't watched but feel compelled to dis freely — I'll come to my senses and realize that in order to dis something constructively, I have to have experienced it. So I'll sit down and watch movies that I think are going to be a total waste of time, just so that I can dis it better.

Events: Guitar Zeros (SF), Japanese Latin Americans (LA)


Clearly hacktastic: The Guitar Zeros; hapa lead singer Ryan Yount

The Guitar Zeros have figured out a way to turn straw into gold, water into Jager. They've turned that sweet tool of the Playstation 2 game Guitar Hero, the plastic mini-Gibson controller, into a mighty sword of sonic destruction. There are no actual guitars in the band, hence guitar zeros. It's the ultimate in real-becomes-fake-becomes-real again kind of thinking. (See their Zero Guide, which includes their Fretbuzz freeware and instructions on turning the controller into an instrument.)

When: Thursday, Sept. 20 (tonight!), 8pm
Where: 111 Minna Gallery, San Francisco
Cost: $2. Enter the Guitar Hero competition on a projector over the bar for $5. Early open bar.


Being an Asian American that grew up in Latin America, I have a soft spot for any Asians with Latin American connections. It's a different form of patria, I guess. I've been seeing more lately on Asian Latinos, from documentary Motherland Korea Cuba USA to a short film on the murders of Chinese restaurant delivery men, D 4 Delivery, where the protagonist is Venezuelan Chinese.

I wish I could make it to War and Prejudice: US Internment of Japanese Latin Americans During WWII and Its Relevance Today. They will screen Hidden Internment: The Art Shibayama Story, followed by a community dialogue and reception with former Japanese Peruvian internee Art Shibayama, Grace Shimizu from Campaign for Justice: Redress Now for Japanese Latin Americans! and Robin Toma from the LA County Commission on Human Relations.

When: Saturday, Sept. 22, 1 - 3pm
Where: Japanese American National Museum, Los Angeles
Cost: Free. Peruvian refreshments served, too.

If the Glasses Fit, I'd Wear Them

So, a couple of weeks ago, I went into the partly-Asian American owned eyewear store in San Francisco, HyperOptics Optometry. Now that I have insurance, it seems like a good idea to plunk some change on eyeglasses. I've been wearing contacts for the last several years, mostly because I love the idea of actually having peripheral vision, but also because my glasses are crooked. I had hit a zombie square on the head in a haunted house soon after I got them, and lo and behold, it was a real person who smacked me back. HARD. (Sorry zombie, but your head was covered in newspaper.) They flew off and were henceforth irretrievable from the land of crookedness.

I had thought that since the store was partly-Asian American owned (or wholly? I'm not sure), they would have frames that would fit my face. My wide, round, bridgeless face. I'm tired of glasses that fall off when I tilt my head down to read a book. I'm tired of them sailing into the distance when I do quick turns in a dance class. I want the lenses to be in front of my eyeballs, not the top of the frame.

Apparently, the store will install nose pads onto frames that don't have them, but they might look weird with plastic frames, which already have a nose landing area. I was really digging on some clear plastic ones, which have that retro-future appeal. Not to mention the quasi-invisibility, comparable to clear orthodontic braces. I started looking around on the web, but realized that I could take advantage of your expertise. So if you have any advice, please share. Also, if you're in any sort of position to start a frame company catering to Asian Americans, you might make a mint.

So Far, Inspire '07 Lives Up to Its Name

The BF is at Burning Man this weekend. What do you do while the cat's away? You, er... go to a leadership conference.

I was going to stay at home, catch up on Hyphen stuff and do Hip Hop Abs a few times. (As silly as it is, a co-worker is really into it, so I thought I'd give it a whirl. Now that I'm 30 I can't seem to rely on my metabolism like I used to.) Instead, I got roped into going to APA 5's Inspire '07. Or rather, I felt obligated to go. The last thing I wanted to do on Labor Day weekend was even more work. But it's turning out to be one of the best things I've done all year. No, really.

VA Tech Report Released

Too obsessed with Sen. Craig's misbehavin' and the sordid details of airport bathroom sting operations, I entirely missed the news on the release of the Virginia Tech Report. Apparently the University and the state mental health system were roundly criticized. The Roanoke Times generously provides pdfs of the entire report.

As someone who works in university administration, I sort of, well, sympathize. As much as we can prepare for an emergency, when they really hit is a different story--especially the worse case scenario-type emergencies, the ones you've never experienced in your lifetime. Universities are sort of like a continual, bureaucratically-slow birthing of a several thousands-headed beer-guzzling monster. How do you wrangle it when hell breaks loose?

I haven't read the report fully yet, and I'm sure human errors abounded that day. My roommate the conspiracy theorist, of course, thinks they weren't errors at all. I think that must be because he hasn't worked at a university, and doesn't know how much it takes to plan anything.

And though I despise the labyrinthine mental health system we have in place (having dealt with it via my mother), I also know that social workers and other public mental health professionals have a fricking hard job in a seriously underfunded and legally complicated sector. I hope that as a result of all this we see MORE FUNDING.

Asian Americans, Mental Health and Families

Do you have an Asian American relative who has struggled with their mental health?

Have you yourself been confused or afraid in trying to find them help? Frustrated by the mental health system? Felt alone? Worried about what this means for your own future and that of your family?

My own mother has struggled with schizophrenia for a very long time, and I would love to talk with you and share stories. I am interested in hearing what challenges you faced, both emotionally and in finding care for your relative, and how you are dealing with them.

Please email me at rebecca[at]

Best wishes,

Joy Dietrich and Tie a Yellow Ribbon at AAIFF in NYC

Tie a Yellow Ribbon director Joy Dietrich. Photo by Seng Chen.

Joy Dietrich's film Tie a Yellow Ribbon will screen at AAIFF tonight at 9:15pm, and from what I understand, it's very close to selling out the theater. Also, there will be an afterparty a short walk away from the Asia Society at Stir with Dietrich, the actors, crew and producers.

I had spoken with Dietrich just hours before it's premiere in San Francisco. (My earlier post, with a synopsis, here.)

AAIFF Parties Hearty

I should have known better than to think that I could blog while on vacation in New York City. For one, I enter a time warp (especially when it's hot out, unlike the presently chilly San Francisco). Secondly, becoming the pack mule to my laptop while trekking around Manhattan in search of free wireless led me to realize why there are so many neon signs for businesses that say "Back and Foot Rub for Men and Women." So you can see why I lagged in posting about the good times had at the Asian American International Film Festival.

Justin Lin's mockumentary Finishing the Game was AAIFF's opening film last Thursday (here's what Neela thought of it at SFIAAFF), and the gala reception was held at the top floor of the Asia Society. Keeping in line with Finishing the Game, the party had a 70s theme, with a costume contest and a plane ticket for the winner to Hong Kong.

In spite of the rollergirl and the disco kings and queens, this dude won the contest:


"You even have red wine!" I said.

"I'm glad you noticed," he said.

Where's the API Immigrant in Immigration Reform?

Guest blogger Carmina Ocampo

Immigration reform has forever been one of those make or break issues for Asian Americans. To put things way too simply, the Chinese Exclusion Acts of 1882 told Chinese people to stay the heck away while the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act let everyone and their Asian mothers in. Given how fundamental immigration reform has been in constructing the varied racial/ethnic/sexual identities of Asian Americans, it's no understatement to say that the outcome of the immigration reform bill currently being debated by the Senate really matters.

It matters who stands to benefit from immigration reform. You'd think immigrants would benefit the most from immigration reform but that might not be the case. Unfortunately, the interests of big business and concern for furthering American global domination have wielded too much influence over the current immigration bill so far. Corporations are divided over what immigrants they prefer. Some corporations have advocated for reform that will yield highly skilled professionals while other corporations want greater access to lower skilled workers.

Bus Rider Blues

Guest blogger Carmina Ocampo

Amidst tense negotiations and angry protests, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority board of directors voted to increase bus fares Thursday in a decision that will hurt the poor communities of color. The plan came as a result of a compromise proposed by Supervisors Gloria Molina and Zev Yaroslavsky, after the Board rejected the Mayor's plan that called for lower fare hikes.

The LA Times reported that under the new MTA plan, bus fares will increase from $1.25 to $1.50; the daily pass will go from $3 to $5 on July 1 and $6 in 2009; and the monthly pass will go from $52 to $62 on July 1 and $75 in 2009. (The original proposal was much more devastating, proposing to raise the fare from $1.25 to $2 and the monthly pass from $52 to $120 over the next two years).

According to the Bus Riders Union, most of MTA's 500,000 bus riders are members of the black and Latino working class who rely on public transportation on a daily basis. According to the MTA, the median household income of a bus rider is $12,000. Given these facts, the new plan will no doubt have a devastating impact on the poor people of Los Angeles, who struggle to support their families, commute long hours to work, and face a lack of affordable housing.

The bus fare issue has also concerned API community groups, considering that there are many API immigrants, especially undocumented immigrants, that rely on the bus for daily transportation. One Filipino careworker I recently met told me that she relies on the bus to commute to work everyday and attend meetings at the Pilipino Workers' Center.

Luke Patterson (Six Days of Mr. Hyphen 2007)


Contestant Luke Patterson will represent Great Leap at Mr. Hyphen 2007. Founded by Nobuko Miyamoto, Great Leap is a multicultural performing arts organization rooted in the Asian American community that promotes cross-cultural exchange through the creative and collaborative process of performances, workshops and community residences.

About Luke:

Rapper. Graffiti artist. Non-profit office hooligan. Mentor. Luke Patterson is many things to many people. He's an MC for the L.A.-based hip-hop group Aesthetics Crew. He's an organizer against police brutality. He's a role model to youths who need it the most, through his work at the APA Youth Resolution Center. Most importantly though, Luke wants to bring together the multi-cultural communities and he'll even tame a lion while riding a unicycle blindfolded to do so. With a multi-talent like this it shouldn't take much to make that great leap to Mr. Hyphen infamy!

I would hope to do a lot of work in building bridges between the Asian & Asian American communities with other communities of color. Through my work I have seen that there is still a lot of ignorance, stereotypes and mis- or non-communication between our community and other Black and Brown people. I would like to do a lot of work breaking down stereotypes and pre-conceived notions of who “Asians” are, what we can be beyond the model minority ideas, and how strong we can be politically and community organizing-wise. I think that if our communities are all united on a deeper level of understanding and respect, not just on the surface of acceptance of each other, then we can make real progressive change for all of us together.

Mr. Hyphen 2007 will take place on Saturday, June 9
at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center.
Buy tickets here.

Tingwei Lin (Six Days of Mr. Hyphen 2007)


Mr. Hyphen 2007 contestant Tingwei Lin will represent the East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation, which develops affordable housing and community facilities with integrated services, focusing on Asian and Pacific Islander communities and diverse low income populations in the East Bay area of California.

About Tingwei:

I hope to be a positive representation for Asian American males and the Asian American community as a whole. I guess I'd like to help that one awkward kid struggling with his identity by perhaps giving him an alternative archetype of Asian-ness than is typically presented. Damn, I know i struggled with it a lot growing up.

For Tingwei Lin, pride and humility comfortably coexist. A champion swimmer, he credits his humbleness to his years spent a la Speedo in the public eye. Although he still maintains that coveted swimmer physique, Tingwei now channels his efforts into helping those in the APA and low income community buy their first homes, save for college and start their own businesses. With that athletic build and heart of gold, you'll agree there's not a "Ting" wrong with him!

As a friend observed, I have been growing more and more into my Asian-ness, my Asian identity, since I moved to California almost 2.5 years ago. Envisioning myself as Mr. Hyphen is a culmination of all of that self-acceptance.

Mr. Hyphen 2007 will take place on Saturday, June 9
at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center.
Buy tickets here.

Jason Woo (Six Days of Mr. Hyphen 2007)


Mr. Hyphen 2007 contestant Jason Woo will represent the California Dragon Boat Association, which provides education and instruction to the general public on dragon boating; enhances bonding and interaction among different ethnic and cultural groups locally, nationally and internationally; and provides youth programs centered on paddling activities and leadership.

About Jason:

At the age of 20, I was blessed with the opportunity to join the San Francisco Fire Department. Being exposed to the real world so early in life, I felt that I had to mature quickly. Life is short, enjoy it. I never waste a second in my life.

Jason Woo can probably kick your ass. An avid snowboarder, cyclist, swimmer and any-form-of-physical-activity enthusiast, Jason was the recipient of the Firefighter of the Year award in 2004 for rescuing people whose boat had capsized off of Ocean Beach. And if that isn't enough, he's mentored youth in Daly City, CA through Asian American Recovery Services and is a member of the Asian Fire Association. However, it is his work with the Dragon Boat Association that has led him to forge cultural understanding using paddling sports, turned him into a high school Dragon Boat coach and ultimately, a competitor at the World Championships of Dragon Boating. Not that he'll use his incredible powers against if you if you don't, but giving Jason a hearty "Woo!" when hits the stage couldn't hurt.

Mr. Hyphen 2007 will take place on Saturday, June 9
at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center.
Buy tickets here.

Anthem Salgado (Six Days of Mr. Hyphen 2007)


Mr. Hyphen 2007 contestant Anthem Salgado will represent Babae SF. Though not a card-carrying member, he believes in Babae's mission of addressing the rights and welfare of multi-generational Filipino women through educational discussions and organizing campaigns.

About Anthem:

He's run 26 miles for an AIDS marathon, learned steer wrestling from Apache Native Americans and walked little old ladies across the street. All this in addition to being a production manager at Kularts and a board member of the Mind Power Collective! An artist in his own right, Anthem is the Jan Brady in the middle of nine siblings. He also has Jedi mind powers. We bet you'll be pledging your allegiance to this Anthem by the end of the night.

I've been mistaken for about every type of Asian, even by other Asians. And after learning about the Vincent Chin story as a young adult, I realized my responsibility to self-represent that pan-Asian connection rather than simply undergo it.

Mr. Hyphen 2007 will take place on Saturday, June 9
at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center.
Buy tickets here.

Jeffrey Sichaleune - (Six Days of Mr. Hyphen 2007)


Contestant Jeffrey Sichaleune will represent the Midwest Asian American Students Union at Mr. Hyphen 2007. As a coalition of Asian American student groups, MAASU fosters political unity in the Midwest. It promotes leadership, encourages APIA students to work toward social change, and assists schools with the establishment of APIA student organizations and programs.

About Jeffrey:

Personality-wise, I am like a durian--so weird, but so good.

The Washington-born librarian is no stranger to the pageant circuit. A runner-up in the Mr. Asian University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign pageant, Jeffrey has taken an incredibly active role in the Asian American community from his days at the Midwest Asian American Students Union and helping develop the UIUC Asian American Cultural Center in 2005, to his involvement with the Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association today. Discovering early in his academic life that engineering wasn't the path for him, Jeffrey eventually went on to earn a master's degree in Library and Information Science. His tenacity and intelligence sure puts the Dewey in our decimal!

I choose all of my activities with deliberate intention and hope to inspire and motivate others ... I would like to continue working with college students and mentor the next generation of conscious Asian American activists. Anecdotal evidence states that college is the best time of a person's life. Research points out that many people develop their Asian American identity in college, so the intersection of these statements can imply that college students are the foundation of the Asian American community. They are going to be our future leaders that serve interdisciplinary interests and are united by their common Asian American identity. ... As a self-identified Southeast Asian, I also think it is important to work with underrepresented Asian American groups to highlight the diversity of Asian Americans.

Mr. Hyphen 2007 will take place on Saturday, June 9
at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center.
Buy tickets here.

Billy Yeh (Six Days of Mr. Hyphen 2007)


Mr. Hyphen 2007 contestant Billy Yeh will represent My Sister's House, which provides services for battered Asian and Pacific Islander women and children. Services include a shelter, culturally and linguistically appropriate domestic violence intervention, support groups, community outreach and intervention and a 24-hour multilingual crisis line.

About Billy:

Given the stark difference in the exposure given to Asian men vs. Asian women in the media, and the underrepresentation of API issues, I believe Mr. Hyphen has a duty to generate positive exposure for not only Asian men everywhere, but also API issues. Moreover, the seemingly irreparable damage done to our species by one William Hung, with whom I'm embarrased to admit sharing the same alma mater, needs to be undone.

An enthusiast of "long walks on the beach, beautiful sunsets," Billy Yeh wasn't always the Adonis you see today. After years of physical intimidation by his older brother, Billy hit the gym and transformed himself into what he humbly refers to as "the body of a god." In doing so, and subsequently wrestling his sibling into submission, Billy demonstrated the strength and willpower that served him well as a chair of UC Berkeley's Asian Political Association. He's hoping you'll feel the same and give him a big "Yeh" as he struts it down the stage.

Where others zig, I zag. Where others tic, I tac and toe. Where others rock, I scissor... you get the point.

Mr. Hyphen 2007 will take place on Saturday, June 9
at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center.
Buy tickets here.

Mr. Hyphen 2007 Contestants!

Just in case you didn't catch the May email newsletter, the following Asian American men will battle it down on stage for the chance to win the Mr. Hyphen crown and a prize donation to their chosen nonprofit:

Tingwei Lin, East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation
Luke Patterson, Great Leap
Anthem Salgado, Babae
Jeffrey Sichaleune, Midwest Asian American Students Union
Jason Woo, California Dragonboat Association
Billy Yeh, My Sister's House

Saturday, June 9
7 - 10pm
Oakland Asian Cultural Center

Stay tuned for more on the contestants' finer points [ahem]...

Race and Murder at VA Tech

Andrew Lam at New American Media articulates what might have crossed your mind when you found out that the Virginia Tech shooter was Asian in Let It Be Some Other 'Asian.

Media Matters for America discusses right-winger Debbie Schuessel's blog entry mentioned in Lam's article, where she assumed that the shooter was "Paki."

Speculations also targeted a Chinese American student as discussed on Tripmaster Monkey.

And, of course, said Asians fear a backlash. Korean American parents are picking up their kids from school and taking them home.

Others have been quick to mention that another South Korean student was shot, as well as an Indian professor.

The Asian American Journalists Association is calling for the media to "avoid using racial identifiers unless there is a compelling or germane reason. ... The effect of mentioning race can be powerfully harmful."

Cho Seung-Hui is repeatedly described as "thorough" in this New York Times article. Do the adjectives used to describe him have a basis in perceptions of ethnicity? As in the idea that Asians are efficient? I'd have to do more research, but it seems like an interesting line to pursue.

Isn't it funny how when there's a white mass murderer, white people aren't afraid of this same sort of ethnically-related backlash?

Where We'll Be: Panels and Workshops at SFIAAFF 07

I'm super excited to go to Saturday's panel discussion, Down and Dirty Pictures. It'll be at the Opera Plaza and starts at 1pm.

SFIAAFF is calling the featured directing trio Gregg Araki, Roddy Bogawa and Jon Moritsugu the 'original "bad boys" of Asian American cinema.' How can you resist that? I certainly couldn't.

They're to talk about their bodies of work, the role of the 'truly independent' filmmaker, and, of course, its future prospects. (What panel would be complete without a little prophesying?)

For other panel discussions, see the SFIAAFF website

Another Hyphen staffer will be going to the Ellen Kuras Master Class, which is on Sunday at 3pm, also at the Opera Plaza.

Cinematographer Ellen Kuras' laureled career has included work with Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), Rebecca Miller and Spike Lee (Summer of Sam and Bamboozled), and on films such as I Shot Andy Warhol and Jim Jarmusch's Coffee and Cigarettes. She'll talk about her cinematographic and decision-making processes, and colloborating with directors.

Two's Company and Three's a Crowd in 'Love for Share'


Indonesia, where the increasingly conservative Islamist government recently passed a broadly interpreted anti-pornography bill banning acts like kissing or baring the legs or shoulders in public, is curiously experiencing a resurgence in polygamy, a practice which had gone underground during President Suharto's long tenure. Some polygamists have taken additional wives in secret, made official by clerics instead of in court, without the knowledge of their first wife. For critics, polygamists are using religion to justify out-and-out sluttery.

On Being a Chinita

In the comments on the Asian Week debacle, a commenter named Franky notes:

I read your post about Latinos calling you chinito. Just for the record that just means Chinese. When you put -ito on the end it usually is an affectionate term. I don't think you should regard that as racist the way blacks making fun of your eyes is.

I was about to leave a comment in response, but thought it better to address my thoughts on 'chinito/a' separately. I spent seven years of my growing-up in Central America, as the hapa daughter of foreign service officer, with a Salvadorean stepmother and extended family. 'Chinita' became the bane of my existence.

NYU Students Protest Band Ching Chong Song

NYU students protested a Valentine's Day performance by the band Ching Chong Song, whose two members are white. The band has changed their name as a result, although this has yet to be reflected on their website.

Which ching chong song could they have been referring to? The Wikipedia entry on 'ching chong' includes some possibilities.

In response to the cancellation of a show at Bryn Mawr, band member Julia LaMendola wrote an open letter to the school newspaper.
In it, she claims that those who complained about her band's name took an unsophisticated approach: "Let's not use misunderstanding as armor against the complicated nature of life. Don't polarize shit when there are so many shades of sexuality and ethnicity to appreciate." Apparently she is able to take this stance because was the "child of a gay parent in a tiny town, a poor second-generation Italian girl, I also have experience with the nuances of language. And give me a break you stupid twats." She continues, "By the way, 'ching chang chong' is what people in Germany call the game paper rock scissors, and stupid petty retards is what I'm calling you."

Well, I call her the paragon of sensibility.

Submit Your Best Bus Stories! (or train, or subway...)

We're gearing up for our Summer issue, The Transit Issue, and we want to see what you've got, Asian America. Riding the bus crosstown can turn into an out-an-out adventure, and we know you have a tale to tell. Send us your well-crafted anecdotes and insights into that human condition we call public transportation.

For our purposes we're not counting taxis and airplanes. But we most certainly welcome things that happened on buses, trains and subways, and even at the bus stop, in 400 to 600 words. Send them to editorial[at] by February 26, 2007.

Have any questions? Leave a comment and I'll get back to you.

Crossing Over Into Where They Least Expect You

This article in today's NY Times, Truly Indie Fans, really gave me warm fuzzies. It looks at the increase in African American indie rockers and skateboarders and the like. Granted, the article doesn't mention Asian Americans at all, but the issues it addresses, such as ethnic stereotypes where music (and the attendant lifestyles) are concerned, are useful in thinking about our own issues. I'm especially thinking of certain comment threads on this blog that have discussed the place of Asian Americans in hip hop.

The story portrays people who dared to cross over to where they were least expected, withstanding judgements from both sides of the ethnic fence, facing isolation and building their own community. For music.

Hell yeah.