8 Asians

SANJAYA-GATE!

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sanjaya_hair.jpgOh, Sanjaya. We here at 8 Asians are kind of torn over the 17-year old American Idol contestant. On one hand, he’s the last sole Asian-American contestant remaining in the singing competition, after contestants Paul Kim and AJ Talbado got eliminated. Hell, if you asked someone on the street before this year to name any Asian American person on American Idol, they would say William Hung, the well-intentioned Electrical Engineer that looked like he has mild Downs Syndrome. (What? You were thinking it.)

Now you can add Sanjaya to the list, for better or for worse. I say “for better or for worse,” because for every person that makes fun of Sanjaya on a blog or a message board, there’s a crying 13-year old girl in pigtails sobbing and speed-dialing Sanjaya to remain in the competition. Whether you like it or not, the androgynous half-Indian, half-Italian 17-year old Sanjaya is the reason why American Idol is still relevant after five – FIVE – seasons of American Idol. Does anyone remember who won the fifth season of Survivor? What, who cares? Exactly.

And why is Sanjaya relevant for Asian Americans? Because his ethnicity is irrelevant to his success or lack thereof, that’s why. While there were once rumors that Sanjaya staying on the show due to call-centers in India that have him on speed-dial, all it took was a shot of a crying girl to confirm America’s worst fears – “foreigners” aren’t voting Sanjaya to remain in the competition, but THEIR OWN CHILDREN. (For the record: votes in American Idol are in the millions, so sites like votefortheworst.com probably don’t make a major impact, as much as they would love to.) And millions of 8-13 year olds don’t care about Sanjaya’s ethnicity; they care about his wacky hair and the fact that he’s barely hit puberty. So here’s to you, Sanjaya – you’re standing up for Asian America. Even though I think you’re kind of a “meh” singer.

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POP 88 – March 27/07 – TS3

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Chae Yeon - It’s all about music on this week’s show including brand spanking new 채연 (Chae Yeon), 박정아 (Park Jung Ah), plus a request for 비Rain and another cool Japanese hip hop/ dancehall/dub collabo with Pushim, Homemade Kazoku, Rhymster, Maboroshi and May J.

Any requests, feedback, suggestions are always welcome. Please email them to me at christine [at] popcast88.com.

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Looks like Kal Penn, better known as “Kumar” in “Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle,” will be a guest instructor at the University of Pennsylvania during the spring 2008 semester. He’ll be teaching two undergraduate courses, tentatively titled “Images of Asian Americans in the Media” and “Contemporary American Teen Films” – according to this Associated Press article. How cool is that?

The Asian Technology Speaker Roster

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white_people.jpgMake all the jokes about Chinese and Indians getting Computer Science and Engineering degrees you want, but as a regular attendee of technical conferences, the faces you see that are speaking back at you in panels and workshops are surprisingly… well… Caucasian. And with more generalist technology conferences such as SXSW Interactive, there’s always some sort of discussion about a lack of women and minority speakers.

That’s why Jeremiah Owyang from podTech has compiled this list of Asian Tech speakers, used as a reference for conference planners should their panels have a demand for… uhm… Asian people. Possible speakers run the gamut from the Vice President of Linden Labs to Tila Tequila, or as my friend Chris says, “that Vietnamese MySpace chick with hella friends.”

Expect in a day or two a large debate on whether Tantek Celik, who is of Turkish decent, is really Asian-American or not.

(Total shameless disclosure: Yes, 2 of the 8 Asians, including Min Jung and I, are on the list as well.)

Latest exciting news would be that Krishtine De Leon, hailing from the bay area is the official winner MTV’s reality show “I’m from Rolling Stone”. Her blog is here.

The Hip-Hop journalist (Pinay and hailing from the bay) has won a position as contributing editor for Rolling Stone.

We say “Dope”.

HOMETOWN San Francisco
COLLEGE San Francisco State

18 Mighty Mountain DVDs

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For those of you who think Asian people are funny (And not just in that awkward, “ha ha” kind of way) should be excited to learn about the upcoming DVD release (and bay area release party!) for the 18 Mighty Mountain Warriors, an Asian American comedy troupe.

18 MMW

**** THE 18 MIGHTY MOUNTAIN WARRIORS ****

“Mighty Warriors of Comedy” Screening & DVD Release Co-presented by Kearny Street Workshop and the Center for Asian American MediaJoin Kearny Street Workshop and the Center for Asian American Media for a screening and release event for Sung H. Kim and Kibi Anderson’s Mighty Warriors of Comedy, a new documentary about SF Bay Area & LA-based sketch comedy group the 18 Mighty Mountain Warriors. The release event features a musical performances from Charlie Chin (3/21), and possibly performances from The 18 Mighty Mountain Warriors themselves.Date & Time: Friday: Wednesday, March 21st, 7pm.
Location: KSW’s space180, 180 capp street, @ 17th street, san francisco

Cost: $10 regular, $8 for card-carrying KSW or CAAM members.

POP 88: March 19/07 Teaser Show #2

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I’ve ripped up the script and will only be reading the news from now on – except, I have no news to read this week … anyhoo …

I coerced a few of my friends into partaking in a verbal game I designed for this very podcast. (Play along!) They were a bit shy at first, but once they got it, they really got into it.

Of course, I’m still bringing you music including new tracks from Yuna Ito, a hot hip hop collabo from DJ Mayumi and the latest from Epik High.

Any suggestions, feedback or comments are welcomed. Please email them to christine [at] popcast88.com.

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Minority Kids are Hot!

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They are! And savvy entrepreneurs know it.

Entrepreneur Magazine reported one of the hottest 2007 business trends as being in the minority kids market. Nearly half of the children under 5 in the U.S. are part of a minority group, be it Asian, black, or Hispanic. That’s one large group.

Young-uns are a marketer’s dream come true. If you can lock your brand in early enough, you potentially have a customer for life. At least, that’s the thinking behind advertising in elementary schools, debatable as that is.

Other business owners are taking a more socially-conscious approach. One great idea: Dolls Like Me. They have dolls of every ethnicity, color and culture (and gender!). Who wants a blonde bimbo with long legs (cough, Barbie) when you can have a doll that’s just like you.

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Japan certifies “real” sushi

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TOKYO (AFP) – Japan on Friday approved a campaign to certify “real” Japanese food overseas, worried that a global sushi craze will bastardise its national cuisine.

The campaign comes despite international derision after a panel first made the recommendations last year, with some US restaurant owners and press reports mocking the creation of a “sushi police.”

And add one more to someone mocking the sushi police as well, besides the fact that I’m wondering if said “sushi police” would look like the Elite Beat Agents. (Actually, that would be pretty cool. There would be a lot of pointing AND USAGE OF MULTIPLE EXCLAMATION POINTS!!!)

But honestly though, why the fuss? It’s not like there’s no such thing as Korean sushi, and at least in Northern California, the majority of Japanese restaurants are owned by by Taiwanese and Korean families who are aware of the high demand for sushi restaurants. And in respects to the damaging of the Japanese “brand,” most people are intelligent to know that one bad restaurant that sells sashimi won’t spoil the image of Japan. Hey, you don’t see the nation of China tarnished because of P.F. Changs. (That’s SO for another blog post.)

(Photo credit: Y’Amal on Flickr)

avril_lavigne_15.jpgCanuck-born and raised Avril Lavigne, while not exactly donning 4 Harajuku girls, has gone to the trouble to re-record her current single “Girlfriend” (albeit only the chorus) into several different languages including, Spanish, Japanese and Mandarin. I gotta say, this has given me a whole new respect for her. I spliced her English, Japanese and Mandarin tracks into one, just for you all out there to take a listen.

* Personally, I think the chorus sounds better in Japanese.

Kumar’s never had it easy. First, it took him a whole night to get to a White Castle. Then people made fun of his name.

Officer Palumbo: What kind of name is that anyhow? Kumar? What is that five o’s or two u’s?

Kumar: No, it’s actually one “u”

Officer Palumbo: Yeah… bullshit.

Now Kumar, oops, I mean Kal Penn, is back.

In a role that will show his versatility & range, Penn will be playing Gogol Ganguli, “an Indian-American who struggles with his funny-sounding name and relationship with his immigrant parents.”

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Chinese – the new Japanese?

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01_20__20Chinese_20class.jpgThe Associate Press just ran this article, “Schools Offer More Chinese Programs.

“As China’s economic power grows, Chinese is becoming the new language of the future.”

This made me think about the late 80s and early 90s when Japan was going to take over the world (and the total land value of Japan EXCEEDED the U.S.!), and everybody was rushing to learn Japanese (including me – I took a semester of Japanese my senior year in college). However, I think Chinese and China’s growth is here to stay.

At the very least, China still has a LOT of growth and development in it. Although China has seen double digit economic growth for over a decade or more, most of China is still very, very poor. Additionally, China’s population is still increasing, while Japan is experience *negative* population growth!

“At least 27 states offer Chinese language classes in either elementary, middle or high schools. And at least 12 public and private schools across the country teach most subjects in Mandarin Chinese, according to the Center for Applied Linguistics in Washington.”

Considering that a lot of schools teach Spanish & French (and maybe even Latin ?), it’s actually pretty amazing that more schools don’t teach Chinese. Then again, I’m not all that knowledgeable as to what has driven language instruction in American education. I took French in middle school and high school, but I am not sure how relevant French is in today’s economy. Continue Reading »