While John Wall is one of the fastest point guards in the NBA and is acknowledged for his athleticism, there is another point guard that is almost as fast whose athleticism isn’t as highly regarded. In the above video that I learned about from this article, Jeremy Lin comments that when he came into the league, his speed numbers were almost as fast as John Wall’s. John Wall was considered “athletic” but he was merely “deceptively athletic.” He goes on to talk about Asian American masculinity and “yellow fever.” While we have talked about Asian American masculinity before, these are not subjects Lin often talks about, and it’s interesting to hear it from a high profile Asian American male.
You may be wondering, is this real news that Lin is citing, about being called “deceptively athletic?” I did find the actual media reference here, where former head coach and commentator Jeff Van Gundy calls him that during the Linsanity period. In addition, while the Slam Online story starts the video when Jeremy Lin speaks, the first part of the whole video is some commentary by Kevin Kreider, who took the video and posted it. Kreider is a personal trainer and former model.
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Cilla Lee-Jenkins: Future Author Extraordinaire is the debut novel from author Susan Tan about a spunky and spirited half-white, half-Chinese eight and half year old with grand visions for her future and astute insight into her past. Cilla is our narrator, and this is her memoir–her first step to reaching her destiny as Future Author Extraordinaire.
Now I know I’m not the target audience for Cilla Lee-Jenkins (ages 8-12 says her publisher’s website), but I did thoroughly enjoy this book. I laughed and cried along with Cilla, followed her high drama and quiet reflections on growing up, on growing up biracial, and on the potential responsibilities of big sisterhood. It’s just the right mix of Capitalized Indignation and Big Moments. Cilla’s voice is so strong throughout that you get the feeling of her talking.
With the end of the 2016 – 2017 traditional broadcast network television season ending, it’s been an amazing season for Asian Americans – with two Asian American family show sitcoms into their second and third seasons with Dr. Ken and Fresh Off The Boat respectively. Unfortunately, Dr. Ken won’t be around in the fall for a third season.
However, I did want to highlight one aspect of the television season for both sitcoms that really stood out – the storylines of Molly & Jae on Dr. Ken and Alison & Eddie on Fresh Off The Boat. Having been born and raised in Western Massachusetts, I was only one of a handful of Asian Americans in my high school graduating class of 270+ students. The closest statistics I could find was that in 2000, my town was 3% Asian American (I grew up in the 1980s, so definitely less than 3%).
So when first seeing the episode (S02E12 – “Ken’s New Intern” – air date: January 6, 2017) where Molly and Jae express their feelings to each other and then kiss, that was a big deal to me. Now I can’t say that I’ve watched every single episode of every broadcast television series where there have been Asian American teenagers dating, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this was the first to show a realistic relationship between two Asian American teenagers:
I particularly like how Krista Marie Yu portrayed Molly as emotionally vulnerable and that the character Jae was not a stereotypical looking geeky Asian guy (or God forbid, Sixteen Candles’ Long Duk Dong)
Then, a little more than a month later on Fresh Off The Boat, there’s an episode and plot line about Eddie’s first kiss with Alison (S03E13 – “Neighbors with Attitude” – airdate: February 14, 2017), where Eddie and Alison eventually do kiss, despite some obstacles in Eddie’s plan during the episode:
After getting over a bit of nostalgia from the musical interlude of Janet Jackson’s “Again” briefly playing in the background, I realized that I probably watched the first ever interracial kiss by an Asian American middle schooler and his white girlfriend on broadcast television.
I wasn’t too surprised to see the headline stating that NBA basketball player Jeremy Lin said he heard worse racist remarks in college when he played for Harvard (from 2006 to 2010) than now, when he plays in the NBA. But I was disheartened to read:
“The worst was at Cornell, when I was being called a c—k,” the Brooklyn Nets point guard said in an interview on his teammate’s podcast, “Outside Shot with Randy Foye.” “That’s when it happened. I don’t know … that game, I ended up playing terrible and getting a couple of charges and doing real out-of-character stuff. My teammate told my coaches [that] they were calling Jeremy a c—k the whole first half. I didn’t say anything, because when that stuff happens, I kind of just, I go and bottle up — where I go into turtle mode and don’t say anything and just internalize everything.”
Being a Cornell alum and graduating in the early 1990s, I can’t recall ever been called “chink” or any racist incidents against me. Even back then, I felt Cornell was fairly diverse and had around 15% Asian Americans or so. A quick Google search gave me Cornell’s Class of 2019’s demographics:
But college students can still be a bit immature, especially at sporting events and with their taunts, can be kind of classless. Hopefully this incident was more of a one-off rather than a trend. But on any large campus, you’re certainly going to have a few bad apples …
Fresh Off the Boat, Season 3, Episode 23: “This Isn’t Us”
Original airdate May 15, 2017.
Microsynopsis: The Huangs move out of their rental, to the sadness of Honey, Marvin, and Eddie’s crew. The boys agree to get matching tattoos to symbolize their brotherhood, but Eddie soon discovers that the bike ride from his new house to his old ‘hood is longer than it looks. Louis is also taken aback by the distance he now commutes to the restaurant, and at first he doesn’t enjoy his new home because Jessica insists the family, now that it has spent all its savings, is “house poor,” which translates into never turning on the hot tub or the heated floors, and not making use of the house’s other amenities. Emery points out to Evan that his new school blazer is made in China, and he’s been reading about the Kathie Lee Gifford sweatshop mess. The younger Huang boys approach Evan’s headmaster (Dr. Johnny Feeeeeeeeeever!) who is not impressed by the stance they are taking.
Good: I’m really liking the young man Emery is becoming. He’s one of the more interesting characters on the show by virtue of being the least quirky, least troublesome member of the family. He had a couple of psycho moments early in the season, but on the whole, he’s the Huang I’d most want to be friends with. No wonder the ladies love him. It’s also neat to see how Evan’s closeness to Jessica manifests itself in his feisty approach to this blazer problem. He’s been a snotty, annoying little punk almost all year, but outside the confines of his family, he’s twice as shrewd as Eddie and maybe as subversive. I’m not sure, but I think Eddie’s crew is still hanging out in Eddie’s old driveway. Pretty cute.
Bad: You’d think what’s essentially a two-parter could have gone a little bit deeper, but for some reason FOtB has avoided depth for the second half of the season. It’s annoying. The story has some potential, especially with the members of this family kind of spreading out in different directions, yet just as it’s getting intriguing, everyone is yanked back to where we started by the usual Jessica stuff.
FOB moment: Grandma believes the new house is haunted, so she encircles her power chair with candles.
Soundtrack flashback: “How Am I Supposed to Live Without You” by Michael Bolton (1990). Again. Twice.
Final grade, this episode: I’ll save my thoughts abourt the third season for a lookback next week. On its own, this is a weak way to go out and a disappointing conclusion for a season finale. C.
The incarceration during World War II has left a scar on the Japanese American community. That’s not surprising, considering how traumatic being forced to leave your home and into a prison in the middle of a desert or swamp would be. But people are always surprised by how scarring it was. For many Japanese Americans, “camps” are still something that is talked about in homes and of course at community events, despite more than seventy-five years and many generations having passed.
As a fourth generation Japanese American myself, I admit it’s always at the forefront of my mind—especially now with all the rhetoric about immigrants and Muslim Americans. I constantly worry that we’re going to see “camps” once again in our country. Not with Japanese Americans but with another group of demonized Americans. In fact, that’s why I always tell my 5-year-old son that we as decendents of those who were imprisoned in these “camps” have a moral responsibility to speak out and make sure it never happens again to any other group.
That’s why books like The Little Exile by Jeanette S. Arakawa are so important. Based on the author’s life, the story follows a middle-school girl, Marie Mitsui, as she goes from a typical American girl to a prisoner in one of America’s concentration camps. Her story takes her from a family laundromat in San Francisco to a remote camp in the swamps of Arkansas to a crowded apartment building in Denver where they have to share a bathroom and kitchen and don’t have running water, and then finally back home again.
The novel is a must read for anyone interested in what it was like in the time after Pearl Harbor for Japanese Americans to what life was like in “camp” and then in the time after they were released. It gives us a peak into the racism and the hate Japanese Americans had to endure during those years—but also the small acts of kindness that they also experienced too. These kinds of stories are important. Not only because they remember the past and tell us the facts, but also because they are able to put a face and a name to what happened—a historical tragedy.
Having worked at the Japanese American National Museum for over ten years, I was exposed to countless books and films about the experience. But even I was surprised and entertained by a lot of the stories in the book. I was especially moved by how much the incarceration affected the family (the parents fought more) and by the compassion from some non-Japanese Americans (Marie’s former class sent her a radio with a card all the way from California to Arkansas or the guard/soldier “Arky” who treated Marie and her friend with kindness).
So put The Little Exile on your reading list and make sure to tell a friend about it. These are the kinds of stories that need to be told and maybe if enough people read it, we’ll avoid making the same mistake a second time.
“While not a ratings breakout, the show [‘Fresh Off The Boat’] has held up reasonably well across its three seasons. The third season is averaging a 1.2 rating in adults 18-49 and 4 million viewers per episode.”
“Dr. Ken also averaged a 0.9 on Fridays in its second season, making it among the tougher calls among bubble shows.”
I was kind of surprised that Dr. Ken got canceled. I mean, I have to admit – the first season was pretty bad. I watched Dr. Ken more out of obligation to support the Asian American community than anything else. But I thought second season dramatically improved (though I’m still no fan of the character Pat, nor the romance between Pat & Damona) from plots lines to the comedy. It’s too bad Dr. Ken couldn’t find an audience, but Friday evenings at 8:30 PM isn’t exactly setting up a show for success. I wish the cast & crew of Dr. Ken the best and look forward to another season of Fresh Off The Boat.
East West Players (EWP), the nation’s longest-running professional theatre of color in the country and the largest producing organization of Asian American artistic work, is pleased to announce its 52nd Anniversary Season, The Company We Keep, which takes place from Fall 2017 through Summer 2018 and features co-productions with Rogue Artists Ensemble, The Robey Theatre Company, Japanese American Cultural & Community Center (JACCC), and the Los Angeles LGBT Center, including two world premieres, an acclaimed revival, and the Los Angeles premiere of an award-winning Broadway musical.
“For our 52nd Anniversary Season, I thought a lot about the company we keep—the vital artistic and community partnerships that have supported and nurtured East West Players over the past 52 years. To that end, we are offering something no other theater company is doing: an entire season of co-productions. These extraordinary works reflect on and refract a wide range of Asian Pacific Islander experiences as seen through the lens of gender, race, and sexuality. We don’t shrink or hide. Instead, we stand taller, unafraid, and, most importantly, together. Welcome to The Company We Keep,” says EWP Artistic Director Snehal Desai.
EWP’s 52nd season commences with the world premiere of Kaidan Project: Walls Grow Thin, a special event presented in association with Rogue Artists Ensemble—a collective of multi-disciplinary artists that creates Hyper-theater, an innovative hybrid of theater traditions, puppetry, mask work, dance, music, and modern technology—with support from Venturous Theatre Fund of The Tides Foundation, the Jim Henson Foundation, the Japan Foundation, and the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs. Written by Lisa Dring, Rosie Narasaki, and Chelsea Sutton with Rogue Artists Ensemble, and directed by Rogue’s Artistic Director Sean T. Cawelti, Kaidan Project: Walls Grow Thin is a multi-sensory, site-specific experience refracting ancient Japanese ghost stories through a modern, multi-cultural lens, revealing the noise of our histories and the silences that haunt us. Performances run from October 5 – November 5, 2017 and will be staged at a secret Mid-City, six-story warehouse built in 1927, to be revealed after tickets have been purchased. More information at www.rogueartists.org.
EWP and The Robey Theatre Company—which explores, develops, and produces provocative plays written about the Global Black Experience—present the revival of Yohen, written by Philip Kan Gotanda, directed by The Robey’s Producing Artistic Director Ben Guillory, and starring Danny Glover, with support from the S. Mark Taper Foundation. In Japanese pottery, the term “yohen” refers to unpredictable changes that take place in the kiln. James and Sumi Washington are an interracial couple struggling to maintain their 37-year marriage after James retires from the US Army. The dramatic change in routine prompts questions about life, love, and aging, as the couple attempts to repair what’s broken and decide what is worth saving. Performances run from October 26 – November 19, 2017 at the David Henry Hwang Theater at the Union Center for the Arts at 120 Judge John Aiso Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012. More information at www.eastwestplayers.org
EWP and Japanese American Cultural & Community Center (JACCC)—one of the largest ethnic arts and cultural centers of its kind in the United States and a hub for Japanese and Japanese American arts and culture in Southern California—and by special arrangement with Sing Out, Louise! Productions and ATA, present the Los Angeles premiere of the Broadway musical Allegiance. With music and lyrics by Jay Kuo and a book by Marc Acito, Kuo, and Lorenzo Thione, Allegiance is inspired by the true childhood experiences of TV/film actor and social media icon George Takei (Mr. Sulu on “Star Trek”). Allegiance tells the story of the Kimura family, whose lives are upended when they and 120,000 other Japanese-Americans are forced to leave their homes following the events of Pearl Harbor. An uplifting testament to the power of the human spirit, Allegiance follows the Kimuras as they fight between duty and defiance, custom and change, family bonds and forbidden loves. Performances run from February 21 – April 1, 2018 at JACCC’s Aratani Theatre at 244 South San Pedro Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012. More information at www.eastwestplayers.org
EWP’s 52nd season closes with the world premiere of As We Babble On, presented in partnership with the Los Angeles LGBT Center and with support from the S. Mark Taper Foundation. Written by Nathan Ramos, winner of EWP’s “2042: See Change” playwriting contest, As We Babble On explores the pursuit of success, its costs, and conquering the Swedish BIGBOX. Benji, a first-generation Asian American, struggles in New York City to find his voice as his writing career stalls. As the professional paths of his best friend Sheila and his half-sister Laura begin to blossom, he begins to unravel. As We Babble On explores what lengths we are willing to go to realize our dreams, whether morality is tied to upward mobility, and whether boxed wine and soda is an appropriate sangria recipe after the age of 24. Performances run from May 31 – June 24, 2018 at the David Henry Hwang Theater at the Union Center for the Arts at 120 Judge John Aiso Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012. More information at www.eastwestplayers.org
Single ticket sales will be announced at a later date. Season subscription options will be forthcoming in June 2017. For additional information about the 52nd season, please visit www.eastwestplayers.org or call (213) 625-7000. Dates, details, and ticket prices are subject to change.
As the nation’s premier Asian American theatre organization, East West Players produces artistic work and educational programs that foster dialogue exploring Asian Pacific Islander (API) experiences. Founded in 1965, at a time when APIs faced limited or no opportunities to see their experiences reflected outside of stereotypical and demeaning caricatures in the American landscape, EWP not only ensures that API stories are told, but works to increase access, inclusion, and representation in the economy.
For more information about East West Players, please visit www.eastwestplayers.org.
A new study from the Cancer Prevention Institute of California (CPIC), with Scarlett Lin Gomez as the lead researcher of the study, is showing an increase of breast cancer in Asian American women. This is particularly troubling because the rate among other racial groups has stabilized.
The study looked at women in the San Francisco Bay Area of California, from 1988 to 2013, and included women from different Asian American backgrounds, including Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Filipino, South Asian, Vietnamese, and Southeast Asian and compared it with results from non-Hispanic white women.
The rate of cancer has been growing fastest in South Asian (Indian and Pakistani), Vietnamese, and Southeast Asian (Cambodian, Laotian, Hmong and Thai) women. The common thread among these women seems to be that they are among the more newly immigrated to the U.S. (and those that are newly introduced to American diets/environment/etc).
A recent NBC News article on this topic talks about how one doctor told his patient that Asian American women didn’t get breast cancer. But of course, Asian American women do get breast cancer and in ever increasing rates. The woman’s sister Mai-Nhung Le, a professor at San Francisco State University, studied the needs of Asian American women and found that Asian American women reported more “unmet daily physical needs”, such as needing help with cooking, housework, and transportation. Le also noted the significance of the CPIC findings that indicated Vietnamese and Southeast Asian women are more likely to have breast cancer before age 50.
My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer back when she was about 50 years old, but it almost didn’t happen. She went in for a mammogram, which apparently the normal image would not have caught her breast cancer. Since her lump was so far off to the side, it presented as pain under her arm. It was only because she mentioned her under arm pain to the mammography technician that he took a separate side image that caught the image of the lump in her breast tissue.
At the time she was lucky in that they diagnosed my mother as stage 1, and she received a double mastectomy along with many rounds of chemotherapy, and couple of years later was declared cancer free. Fast forward 15 years later, and her cancer returned, metastasized and incurable. She passed away a few years later. I’m grateful for the many years we got to have my mom because of the early diagnosis, but I’m still mad that we don’t have a cure yet, and we had to lose her, too soon to see her own grandchildren grow up.
If you’re an Asian American woman, make sure you understand the warning signs and that you get your mammogram. Don’t let a doctor tell you that Asian American women don’t get breast cancer.
Fresh Off the Boat, Season 3, Episode 22: “This Is Us”
Original airdate May 9, 2017.
Microsynopsis: Michael Bolton offers to buy Louis’s restaurant. It’s tempting because it would allow the Huangs to buy their home, but since it’s not part of the Louis-and-Jessica “life plan,” Louis rejects the proposal. Jessica tries to get Evan admitted to St. Orlando’s, the city’s most selective private school (where Dr. Johnny Fever is headmaster). Eddie and his friends celebrate their graduation from eighth grade but when a silly videotape they’ve made of their ceremony gets into an older step-sibling’s hands, they’re worried that they’ll begin high school as losers.
Good: A lot really depends on how things play out in the second part of this season finale next week, but so far I kind of like some new character growth stuff, such as Evan’s possible move to a private school, Louis’s becoming a business partner with Michael Bolton (another stupid cameo, but one that doesn’t irk me for some reason), and Eddie moving into high school. The return of Eddie’s pimp-walk. Good soundtrack flashbacks.
Bad: I want the MythBusters to come out of retirement and either confirm or bust the TV myth that you can throw a rock through a typical bedroom window without shattering the entire pane of glass. While I like the idea of Evan’s applying to get into a private school, and while it makes sense for Jessica to want this for her child too, I’d like to see some of the subversion that courses through the veins of this show. Here’s hoping Evan gets in and then the Huangs give the whole school a big middle finger and decline his acceptance.
FOB moment: “We’re doing it, Jessica. We’re living the American dream. Just like — the landlord! Hide your grandmother!”
Soundtrack flashback: “Step Into a World (Rapture’s Delight)” by KRS-One (1997). “How Am I Supposed to Live Without You” (1990). “Mo Money Mo Problems” by the Notorious B.I.G. featuring Puff Daddy and Mase (1997).
Final grade, this episode: Joz says “not enough Emery.” I say not enough Honey, Alison, or Nicole, although I’m grateful for a double dose of Deidre. You know what would be great? You know how some shows have a consistent gimmick in their episode titles? What if Fresh Off the Boat for the remainder of its run (if this isn’t the remainder of its run) named all its episodes after existing TV shows, like this one? I’m totally going to rename every episode this season this way and offer the list in next week’s review. Tempted to give this one a C, but it is really part one of a two-parter, even if the episode’s not designated a two-parter. Next week’s episode, “This Is Not Us,” is the conclusion. Incomplete.
This being May, it’s not a surprise to see a lot of events and activities commemorating Asian Pacific American Heritage month, including most recently, the Rally for Inclusion: 135th Anniversary of the Chinese Exclusion Act in San Francisco.
On Monday, May 8th, Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Silicon Valley) authored House Resolution 31, which declares May 10, 2017 as California Chinese Railroad Workers Memorial Day, in honor of the nearly 12,000 Chinese railroad workers who helped build the Transcontinental Railroad. From the actual text of the bill:
“The 150th anniversary of the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad will take place on May 10, 2019 … That the Assembly recognizes and honors the Chinese railroad workers who labored from 1865 to 1869 to build the Transcontinental Railroad by designating May 10, 2017, and each May 10 thereafter, as California Chinese Railroad Workers Memorial Day.”
I had blogged about the 145th anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad, where the Chinese railroad workers were essentially Photoshopped out of history.
It’s terrific to see a 4th generation Chinese American bring up a bill to recognize the work of over 12,000 Chinese railroad workers who were essentially to connecting the nation from East to West via rail.
I’ve been a member of the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco since before their move to the old public library in SF. It’s been a membership I’ve enjoyed greatly, and something that I happily share with my daughter. She’s now 11, and getting to be a bit old for this latest book review, “Adventures in Asian Art: An Afternoon at the Museum” by Sue DiCicco. This book is probably best suited for kids ages 3 to 10.
The book walks through 53 exhibits that a child might see in a visit of the Asian Art Museum (which houses over 18,000 artifacts) and would make a great companion piece for a child’s first visit. The collection of art described by the book covers a wide range of countries, including China, Japan, Korea, India, and more.
The book also includes more a little more detail on each of the featured pieces of art at the beginning and end of the book, so the more curious children (or even adults) can find out the date, size (important because many of the pieces are not drawn to scale in the book), description, location and name of the actual piece.
The inclusion of the “Ritual vessel in the shape of a rhinoceros” is a nice touch, since it ties in nicely with the Asian Art Museum’s own “Rhino Club“, an additional optional membership for members’ kids to get invited to special events and programs just for children.
Even if you’re not planning on visiting the Asian Art Museum in SF, and instead are planning a visit to say the Asian wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, this book will give a first time child visitor a nice glimpse of what to expect and how to use their imagination when they see a piece of art at the museum.