Friends Doing Good Giving Circle Party Saturday Dec 14 in LA LA LA

ImageLike to Dance? Like to support Asian American and Pacific Islander community-based organizations? Then come out and join AzN as we throw a dance party for the ages in Little Tokyo LA benefiting the Friends Doing Good Giving Circle. Why? Cause although AAPI makes up over 5% of the US population, only 1% of all philanthropy goes to AAPI groups. And that needs to change y’all! And we can change it one party at a time. FDG Party details as follows:

On Saturday, December 14, 2013, join us as we premiere our giving circle:FRIENDS DOING GOOD
Chynna DTLA – Little Tokyo – 333 Alameda St Ste 115. Los Angeles, CA 90013

*validation provided in Little Tokyo Market Parking Structure
9pm-2am

$10 presales available at http://friendsdoinggoodpremiere.eventbrite.com/
$20 recommended donation at the door
100% of proceeds will go towards charity.

FEATURING FDG DJS
King Most
D-Reel (Massive Selector)
Dr Professor
Resident DJ
P R O P S ! –
CozyBoy
DangerClose

Photos by PisforPROPS.com

Wanna learn more about FDG?
Follow us: @FriendsDoinGood
Instagram: @FriendsDoingGood
*FDG is proud to be part of the National AAPIP Giving Circle Network & fiscally hosted by Tides Foundation

2012 LA Asian Pacific Film Festival

2012 LOS ANGELES ASIAN PACIFIC FILM FESTIVAL PRESENTED BY VISUAL COMMUNICATIONS

Southern California’s Largest Asian Film Festival Runs May 10 – 20, 2012, Will Present 188 Films From Over 20 Countries Featuring World Premieres, Sneak Previews; Showcasing Documentaries and Narratives Focusing on the Voices of Asian Americans and Asian Peoples from Around the World.

MAY 10 – 20, 2012
28th LOS ANGELES ASIAN PACIFIC FILM FESTIVAL
A VISUAL COMMUNICATIONS PRODUCTION
www.vconline.org/festival

The New New Chinatowns

For years I’ve been hearing folks talk about gentrifying Chinatowns. This is a real concern in Chinatowns like Oakland’s, where an underutilized BART station (Lake Merritt) is going through a community planning process that can potentially lead to some pretty high buildings, higher population and higher rents and Chinese folks hightailing out.

Oak-rand

Oak-rand

Now, I could spend this whole blog post writing about how to protect Chinatowns, but to be honest, what does that mean? Part of it means keeping rents low (rental protections), keeping Chinatowns for Chinese folks (street signs in Chinese) and making sure the local amenities appeal to Asian folks and not Audi-driving yuppie parents. But what happens when a business closes (Chinatown knickknacks, boba tea cafes, Chinese breakfast restaurants). What do you replace it with? Another Chinatown staple? A Starbucks with Chinese signage? Should we maintain the look, feel and economic pulse of Chinatowns? What if a family business that’s been running for 40 years suddenly closes and sells to 3rd generation Asian Americans? What if a business gets passed on, within the family, to a 2nd generation Chinese kid? What if a Korean American kid takes over a family Chinese restaurant and turns it in a fusion Chinese spot that’s voted one of the top ten new restaurants in the country like Mission Chinese in San Francisco? What if MC opened up in the heart of Chinatown SF? What would the local CBOs and Chinese Chamber say? So that’s the dilemma I’m proposing to you. What does it mean to be Chinatown: Geography? Tenure? The things you sell? And how Chinese do you have to be to be Chinatown: Full Chinese? Chinese American? ABC? Asian? Asian American? Vietnamese/Filipino/Korean American? 2nd/3rd/4th generation? Angel/Ellis Island Asian?

I don’t know the answer to all of this, but I do know that folks like me who hang out in Chinatowns like second homes need to be thinking about this shit cause our generation and younger need a PLAN. To start, I’d like to provide you a few examples of what Chinatowns might look like a few years from now, businesses I’m calling Chinatown 2.0 cause these aren’t your typical paper money shops. These are hybrid old school/new school uses, Asian American type businesses, or just hip (probably gentrifying) uses that we need to pay attention to before Chinatowns become ethnic Disneylands crossed with Portlandia: food trucks, secret dive bars, and two girls/two shirt stores everywhere. I’ll be including a gentrification meter rating between 1-10 that’ll predict how this business will affect the pushing out of Chinese folks from the premises (1 being 中文地狱 and 10 being American Apparel next door to a Anthropologie).

Li Po Lounge, San Francisco California. Made famous by the latest Anthony Bourdain Layover SF episode and Sweater Funk (a sweaty/grimy soul party every Sunday night). How legit is this place? Old school chinese bar up top with Tsing Tao bottles and the soul party downstairs. Gentrification Meter: 4 before Bourdain, 5 post-Bourdain. Its grimey and the hipsters are hidden downstairs.

San Francisco's Li Po Lounge

San Francisco's Li Po Lounge

Fortune Sound Club, Vancouver, British Columbia. I don’t know much about Van City other than I like everything about it. I especially know nothing about the City’s Chinatown if only cause I learned early on you gotta go south to Richmond to get a taste of real Chinese food. So I don’t know why there’s still a Chinatown in the City and who actually lives there. But that didn’t stop me from including the only real CLUB I’ve ever been to in a Chinatown (sorry Grand Star, which comes up next). Gentrification Meter: 6? On one hand, you got Saul Williams coming up in March at Fortune, but on the other hand, are there Chinese folks that actually live here? Any Vancouverites wanna fill me in?

Can you spot an Chinese folks in this crowd? Oh there's one! Two, three.... Three...

Grand Star Jazz Club, Los Angeles, California. So hip, Blacklava sells a shirt for this spot. New York tribute night be damned, this spot is so cool and confusing. On one hand, you have Britney making cameo appearances and on the other hand, step one foot outside and you’re a drunk walk away from a big bowl of steaming jook. Gentrify Meter: 7. Did I mention Britney Spears in the same sentence as jook in the previous sentence???

Still see a lot of Asian American folks here no matter what party is going on.

So what can you do? If you’re Chinese, open up a new business in Ctown, USA. Just be culturally sensitive and if you’re gonna sell food, it damn well better be good. And please, no more vinyl toy shops. The ones in San Jose JTown and Chinatown LA haven’t been customer magnets unless you want 12-yr old kids loitering and playing street fighter on your in-house Super Nintendo. I really wish I could have showed you some viable Chinatown retail businesses that fit this Chinatown 2.0 category, but I really don’t know any. Please send them our way if you do know!

Asian American Army Recruitment Up 80% in LA County

According to the L.A. Times, L.A. County has seen an overall increase in Asian Americans enlisting for the U.S. Army:

Overall, the Los Angeles Recruiting Battalion signed up 2,300 new recruits, a 34% increase over last fiscal year.

[Enlistees] helped drive the biggest Army recruitment boon for Los Angeles in two decades — led by an 80% increase in Asian enlistments in the last year. Asians have traditionally joined the military at the lowest rate among all races.

But lured by job security, enhanced tuition aid and, for some immigrants, the chance for U.S. citizenship, Asians this year made up 22% of all active-duty recruits, nearly twice their proportion in the Los Angeles County population.

Latino enlistments increased by 37%, while African Americans rose by about 14% and whites, 15%.

I can’t help but feel that these kids are being lured by the American Dream of getting a fully paid college education or US citizenship, rather than the American Dream of fighting for your country. Are they being tricked? Or is this simply a business deal… True, a lot of these folks will not see the battlefield and will probably be behind a computer monitor working on our “defenses”. But some of these kids WILL be in our wars, and blown to pieces in Afghanistan, all because s/he wanted to take engineering classes at UC Irvine and couldn’t afford it with the ridiculous UC fee hikes this year.

Thanks CB

Anh Joseph Cao: Father, Husband, Representative, and American

Joseph Anh Cao, no stranger to BcB, has gained Barbera Lee status this week by being the only Republican to go against party lines and voting FOR universal health care.

Anh Cao, I salute you. You truly are a brother (what Anh means in Vietnamese) and your words are wise:

“I had to make a decision and I felt that last night’s decision was the right decision for my district,” he added. “Even though it was not the popular decision for my party.”

Although your election was based on controversy (the NOLA district Cao represents is majority Dem and didn’t come out for his election), the fact that you’re voting for what your constiuents need is admirable.

Health care is a Fundamental Right. It goes beyond taxes, big insurance, and party lines. It’s about my aunt, mother of three daughters and unemployed for five months and diagnosed with cancer just a few months before her new job’s health insurance kicked in. It’s about the intern at my work who has two jobs and no insurance, who recently scored bronchitis. She medicated herself (very well I might add) with over-the-counter drugs cause she’s been doing this without health care for so damn long.

This bill is not just meant for the very, very poor who are covered by Medicare already and it’s definitely not for the super rich with amazing health insurance that’s included with their Faberge eggs and stock options plan. It’s for you, and it’s for me.

My ass is on Cobra right now, so you can be damn sure I’m donating to Cao’s very uphill battle to get re-elected in NOLA during his next election. Donate here or be a fan on his Facebook page. Just keep a careful eye on him in case he treads back into Republican territory…

Lac Su’s I Love Yous are for White People: The Asian American Identity in America

I Love Yous Are for White People is definitely a great read. I was going to write a review, but my boy Minority Militant has one already, which you can check out here. I just wanted to touch on what I found most compelling about the book, the subject of Vietnamese American identity, and what it meant to me when I was reading the book. There are some spoilers below, because I mention some of the folks in the novel… So be warned!

The only time you'll see Dodger Blue on BcB. The ONE exception.

Lac came over to LA-LA at a time when Vietnamese folks were still new to the states and Westminster was developing as a Little Saigon. So he, like many Vietnamese folks coming over, was jumping from one world to the other (VN to the US) and then discovering his own identity in a city with a ridiculous amount of diversity: A Latino street gang, a Vietnamese American graffiti gang, a predominantly Chinese (then White) high school, a loving Latino American family and Lac’s own Vietnamese family all played prominent roles in his life. The book depicts pivotal moments in Lac’s life where he was given a choice of several different worlds. Because to accept one, is to reject the other. There was hardly any overlap when you’re rolling with a Latino gang or a Vietnamese American graffiti gang. Lac’s description of growing up Vietnamese in America surrounded by Latinos is a unique perspective that not many get to experience in the world.

Reading about Lac’s childhood at that time, in that place, gave me some insight on how the “American transition” for folks back then was like. The way Lac grew up learning about “nhau” felt like he was seeing it as something inherently foreign, but surprisingly familiar. I think we all feel that way about our Asian motherland’s culture when we experience it as Asian Americans. What does it mean when I go to “nhau” spots in OC to eat pig intestines and drink Beer 333 and end up relating to it no differently than when I hit up Korean bars and eat Dukbokgi with soju/OB beer or Teppanyaki with Kirin at a Japanese spot. I feel like I am so far removed from the experience, that although I speak the same language and grew up in a Vietnamese household, in some ways, I am fetishizing my own culture like I grew up as a My Trang. I can’t speak for Lac when it comes to this outsider looking in perspective, but I can definitely tell you that this is how I felt while I was reading his book.

So I would say this book easily appeals to all folks that are close to the immigrant experience, but still on the cusp of both cultures. For all the folks that took ESL classes in school and learned very early on that its hard to stay friends with your elementary school rainbow collation friends forever, this book is for you. For those of you that are repulsed by the mere mention of coagulated duck blood you should probably read The Lost Symbol (doesn’t Robert Langdon get into the craziest situations?!). For those of you that just came over from Viet Nam, and not entirely fluent in English yet, this book is for you if you bug Lac to get the book translated, especially for his pops.

And to Lac, my biggest criticism is the same as TMM’s, I felt the book was cut short. I  wanna hear about your life in high school and what it was like during that time to be in an interracial relationship. That would provide a lot of people, including myself, that have tried to figure out if losing the comfort of being two nondescript Asian folks dating or the ease of speaking your native tongue to Vietnamese folk is worth the sacrifice of all the stares you get when you’re out with a girl of a different race. I’d like to say yes, to some degree, for the right person, but I’d like to hear the story from your own perspective, Lac. Your idol, Augusten Burroughs, blessed us with more than one book, and I hope the same for you.

And send me an iTunes playlist of your music too. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Etta James next to Tupac on a playlist before…

Herro Kitty Turns 35 Years Old

Herro copy

I can’t believe Hello Kitty’s been around for 35 years? I still remember heading to Eastridge Mall to watch my cousin Aim pay $2 to spin that Sanrio wheel and “winning” a pencil and eraser. And now for her 35th year anniversary, Sanrio is having an exhibit in SoCal at the Royal/T Café/Shop/Art Space in Culver City from October 23 through November 15, 2009.

Part of the press release:

Hello Kitty has long been a muse to artists & designers. In honor of Hello Kitty’s 35th Anniversary celebration, SANRIO, Inc. is bringing an event to the U.S. like nothing America has seen before. ‘Three Apples’ is a multi-dimensional exhibition and celebration of all things Hello Kitty running from October 23 to November 15 that will kick-off with a VIP media event and be followed by unique displays, an art sale for charity and special fan events that will be open to the public, free of charge – all celebrating this beloved pop icon! The celebration, at Royal/T in Culver City, CA, is targeted at Hello Kitty fans of all ages.