8 Asians

With Senator John McCain the “presumptive” presidential nominee for the Republican Party, there is a lot of speculation as to who McCain will pick as his vice presidential running mate. Amongst the field of possible running mates, a surprising possible choice is recently elected, Indian-American, Governor Louisiana ‘Bobby’ Jindal of Louisiana, as reported in “McCain’s Surprise: Could GOP’s Bayou Gov. Get Veepstakes Slot?:

jindal.jpg“…For Jindal, gubernatorial assension into the national spotlight came in October following a 53 percent victory in the Louisiana governor’s race making the 36-year-old former two-term congressman the nation’s first Indian-American governor…”Conservatives really, really like him, which would give McCain a touchback to that base,” said Dowd, a former strategist for the Bush White House. “He’s the governor, he’s young, he’s the next generation of leader.”…”The beauty is,”…, “is he’s not just a good, strong conservative, but he’s also incredibly competent and with a history in some domestic issues, like health care, which are going to be front and center next fall.”

He is so much beloved by the conservative base, that even radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh has been calling Jindal “the next Ronald Reagan.” Now as much as I love the idea of having an Indian-American as a vice presidential candidate and McCain running mate, Jindal is barely old enough to even have qualified to run for president (which is 35). Additionally, serving 2 terms in the House and just recently becoming Governor doesn’t exactly inspire confidence to be commander in chief. Jindal has already indicated that he has no interest in being a running mate.

On another note, The Wall Street Journal on Saturday does a nice write-up on Jindal in “Jindal’s Progress” talking about his swift moves clean up Louisiana politics through ethics reform and rebuilding the state’s infrastructure. If you are a Republican (I am not), Jindal is definitely an up-and-comer in the Republican Party.

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What do strong Asian women sound like??


Caution: Strong Asian Women Cursing…

Swagger+Articulate speech+Loud Cursing = SEXY!!!!!!!!

Photo: The New York Times: “In 1979, Mr. Dith escaped over the Thai border. He returned to Cambodia in the summer of 1989, at the invitation of Prime Minister Hun Sen. At left, Mr. Dith visited a museum at Tuol Sleng that is the site of the torture of 20,000 people, almost all of whom were also killed.”

I was killing time Sunday afternoon waiting for my friend to finish up something when I came across the news while surfing the web on my mobile phone, that Cambodian-American New York Times photojournalist Dith Pran died of pancreatic cancer at age 65. Who is Dith Pran you ask? His story was told in the Academy Award winning film, “The Killing Fields” as we as described in “Dith Pran, ‘Killing Fields’ Photographer, Dies at 65” article:

“Mr. Dith saw his country descend into a living hell as he scraped and scrambled to survive the barbarous revolutionary regime of the Khmer Rouge from 1975 to 1979, when as many as two million Cambodians — a third of the population — were killed, experts estimate. Mr. Dith survived through nimbleness, guile and sheer desperation. His credo: Make no move unless there was a 50-50 chance of not being killed. He had been a journalistic partner of Mr. Schanberg, a Times correspondent assigned to Southeast Asia. He translated, took notes and pictures, and helped Mr. Schanberg maneuver in a fast-changing milieu. With the fall of Phnom Penh in 1975, Mr. Schanberg was forced from the country, and Mr. Dith became a prisoner of the Khmer Rouge, the Cambodian Communists.”

Upon escaping from Cambodia, Pran continued to work for the New York Times and eventually became an American citizen. Pran coined the term “The Killing Fields” for how he described the Cambodian genocide. If you haven’t seen The Killing Fields, you should. Pran continued to speak out and seek justice against Khmer Rouge and create awareness of on going genocide in the world today. May he rest in peace.

Lena Chen, NOT a Student of Virginity


lena_chen.jpgIn this Sunday’s New York Times Magazine, there is an article “Students of Virginity,” which discusses that “In the Ivy League, abstinence is a) philosophical, b) research-based, c) an outgrowth of feminism, d) sexy and fun, e) all of the above.” For most of the article, the reporter profiles Harvard student Janie Fredell and her involvement in a relatively new student group on campus — “a band of celibates, men and women, calling themselves True Love Revolution.” However, what caught my eye in the article that made me want to blog about this on 8Asians was the anti-Janie Fredell, Chinese-American Lena Chen:

PERHAPS NO ONE at Harvard represents the hookup culture better than Lena Chen, a student sex blogger, and few True Love Revolution events have drawn as much attention as Fredell’s debate with her last fall. Chen and Fredell described the event to me later, when I met them separately for lunch. Chen was a small Asian woman in a miniskirt and stilettos… Chen’s viewpoint, as she explained it to me, was not complicated. “For me, being a strong woman means not being ashamed that I like to have sex,” she said. And “to say that I have to care about every person I have sex with is an unreasonable expectation. It feels good! It feels good!…Chen knew, as she told me later, that “the culture reacts differently when women make the same decisions men do.” Her own decisions were public knowledge, because she revealed them on her blog. Chen’s perspective on society, and Fredell’s, was borne out in the aftermath, as people wrote in to Ivygate (“Ivy League news, gossip, sex, sports, students, campus life and more “), calling Lena Chen a “slut,” a “whore,” a “total whore,” a “whore whore slut.” And then someone by the screen name of Sex v. Marriage wrote in to say that “most guys out there would rather end up with a girl like Janie.”

To say the least, I was very curious to hear such frank words from Chen and was interested to learn more about her from her blog, and discovered that she was born in San Francisco and raised in Los Angeles,. a first generation Chinese-American. For some reason, I was not terribly surprised that Chen was born in San Francisco and raised in California.

Of course, given my fairly conservative Taiwanese-American upbringing (as well as historically Puritanical, The Scarlet Letter Massachusetts upbringing) I wondered, “What the hell do Chen’s parents think of her?” But I also do recognize the usual double-standard for men and women regarding sex.

In almost every social aspect, I’d say that native Californians (and West Coasters), are pretty liberal relative to the East Coast and the rest of the nation. That aside, how much of your parents’ “traditional” values have influenced your thoughts regarding pre-marital sex?

This is the larger-than-life story of Reverend Moon, the billionaire Korean preacher behind the Washington Times, the heart of the GOP media machine… who jet-sets around the world with members of the Bush family… who literally claims to be the Second Coming… to whom D.C. insiders shamelessly pay homage. Years ago, Moon was widely considered a dangerous madman, like Jim Jones or L. Ron Hubbard. He inspired TV specials with names like “Escape From The Moonies.” His group earned its notoriety by prying young people from families, persuading them to sell flowers to underwrite Moon’s New York mansions and yacht, and marrying his subjects to strangers as a show of domination. Not only is he still around, but he is richer and more influential than ever. In 2004, journalist John Gorenfeld scooped the Washington press corps when he exposed a dinner party on Capitol Hill, in which members of Congress watched as Moon held a ritual coronation for himself as the “King of Peace.” Wearing a majestic cape and coronet, the publisher declared himself the Messiah. The New York Times editors compared the event, sponsored by a U.S. senator, to an act of the Roman emperor Caligula.

That, as you might imagine, was just the tip of the iceberg.

Bad Moon Rising takes you into the underbelly of the Religious Right. Which is surprisingly, scandalously entwined with Moon and his business empire — an untold chapter in American political history.

The grand absurdity is that Moon has become a major patron of conservative politics. And from his seat of respect, he is launching odd, multi-million dollar campaigns of his own to replace Jesus (whom he considers a failure), and attack the wall between church and state; his church, that is.

There’s more. The Chicago Tribune has reported that he controls the U.S. sushi industry. He manufactures heavy industry, does business with Kim Jong-Il. And he now officially considers himself Emperor of the Universe, claiming the imagined endorsements of dead U.S. presidents.

Strange sex and violence, power and blasphemy… The author invites you on an arresting journey as he explores the skulduggery with which Moon insinuated himself into Washington’s most moralistic circles, with a cast including the Bush family, Jerry Falwell, Left Behind author Tim LaHaye, Richard Nixon, an overseas gangster or two, and the men who built the Religious Right… with more than a little help from Moon.

Read about the state of American democracy in Bad Moon Rising, and you won’t know whether to laugh or cry.

pursesnatchingmap.jpg The latest crime spree in San Jose, California appears to be “Brazen purse snatchers preying on Vietnamese women.” In general, I think San Jose has dubbed itself in the past as the safest big city in America (San Jose is the 10th largest city in the U.S. by population – 930,000 residents). Additionally, San Jose has one of the highest concentration of Vietnamese-Americans in the country, where one out of 10 San Jose residents being Vietnamese. According to The San Jose Mercury news article:

“…The Rippers are what San Jose police are dubbing packs of purse snatchers who have been targeting Asian women – in particular Vietnamese women – in recent months as they stroll through parking lots. Why Asian women? They tend to carry lots of cash, police say. The dangerous and unprecedented epidemic includes 21 recent robberies, according to San Jose detective John McElvy, many of them carried out brazenly in crowded and well-lit lots… Despite the shared nickname, the Rippers are not a consolidated criminal group, police believe. They are at least two and possibly three separate gangs unconnected except for their timing and dangerous criminal behavior.”

Given San Jose’s reputation for being “boring” and quite suburban, this is quite a change. I guess boring and suburban is a whole lot better than Oakland’s reputation, where the number of homicides is sufficient enough for The San Francisco Chronicle website to have a Google Maps Mashup showing all the homicides in 2007 & 2008. Obviously, if you have any information regarding these incidents, please inform the San Jose police department. And be careful out there and don’t carry too much cash – apparently one victim was carrying $700.

Immigrants just want to blend into the crowd


Interesting conversation I had with a friend of mine. I had asked why he spoke American English without an accent since he was taught in the style of British proper as are pretty much all Asians that immigrate to the United States. To this he responded with, “…amalgamated it with American English to not stand out.” The last two words were pretty interesting.

Stand out? But in American education, you’re taught that you are brilliant, wonderful, and definitely special. In fact, there’s a school of thought that you should be standing out from the crowd. And don’t get me wrong, that’s a pretty wonderful thing. If we didn’t stand out as individuals, we wouldn’t have people like Steve Jobs and the like. But it is interesting that immigrants have taken an opposite stance and do not wish attention drawn to them. In fact, they just want to blend into the crowd instead of pushing to the front.

It makes you wonder from a cultural perspective what creates this type of mentality and the pros and cons of each especially in a economically driven society. It all goes back to why Yankee ingenuity reigns supreme in many things such as research and development, but as a work force, Asians seem to be more docile which often is to the delight of a management team. For those of us that are raised here in the more westernized environment, it’s not even a question about how we’re often more outgoing than our friends across the Pacific. But it does raise some interesting thoughts. Do those of us Asian Americans then have the best of both worlds? I believe it’s very possible.

Photo Credit: (wallyg)

(Re-posted from my personal weblog site) I don’t know what to make of this. I literally sat there for the four-plus minutes with my mouth wide open; horrified but fascinated. It’s like watching my sister, or any one of my friend’s sisters, driving off a cliff.

So many things about her hit a bit close to home: Chinese, latch key kid, from Long Island. The small little trinkets and decorations in her house look like one of the dozens of Chinese homes that I’ve been to. Her parents, and upbringing, sound like something right out of a textbook.

My parents probably even know her parents. I might have even met her peripherally as kids at some Long Island Chinese yenta party. Who knows?  I can only cringe at the thought of what her parents would do and say if/when they found out.  (My parents didn’t talk to me for a week when I posed nude for a creepy pervert photographer off Craigslist.)

This video is NOT SUITABLE FOR WORK. Nudity! Curse words! Adult themes! No children under the age of 38 should watch this!

martinyan.jpgBooks for Cooks: New TV show, book build on Yan’s passion” profiles Asian-American cook Martin Yan, a local San Francisco Bay Area resident.

“Now in his 30th year on television, Yan is still cooking – and spreading the message of honest food cooked fresh the Asian way. “I think it’s passion,” says Yan of a career that spans more than 2,000 episodes broadcast worldwide. “If you’re not passionate, if you don’t like what you do – you don’t even last for three years.” This year, that passion expresses itself in a new public television series, “Martin Yan’s China,” an exploration of the different schools of Chinese cooking that is part travelogue, part cooking instruction. The show, as well as the companion book Yan wrote, covers material that would have been impossible to introduce to Americans when Yan launched his television career. At the time, soy sauce was exotic and a wok was a funny-shaped frying pan you had to look hard to find.”

Yan is most known for his television series, “Yan Can Cook” – with the sort of cheesy tag line playing on his name – “If Yan can cook, so can you.” Personally, I think Ming Tsai represents a more modern approach and mainstream image to cooking shows (Tsai currently hosts PBS’s cooking show, Simply Ming and used to be on the Food Network’s East Meets West with Ming Tsai).

Apparently 1 min and 14 secs…

“I roll with a clan, you look like Jackie Chan” OHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!


EDIT: this is Lupe Fiasco and Chris Brown backstage after a show in London for those of you who may not have recognized them…

Last year, I had the opportunity to meet the writer/producer of the film Formosa Betrayed, Will Tiao as he was trying to raise money for the film. Formosa Betrayed is based on actual events that happened in the early-80s, about a student spy network which focuses on the political and social activities of Chinese and Taiwanese-American students on the campus. The filmmaker is looking for actors in an open casting call:

formosabetrayed.jpg“We are looking for Taiwanese and Chinese actors, both male and female, ages 20-50 years old for roles in FORMOSA BETRAYED. Please send headshots and resumes to [email protected] If called back by our casting director, you must be willing to be filmed on tape. If cast in the film, you must be a local Chicago hire, ie: any transportation to Chicago and housing in Chicago must be covered on your own. Must be available during the months of April to mid-May. If able to speak Taiwanese or Mandarin, please list on your resume. For further information, visit www.formosathemovie.com

The film is being positioned as an international political thriller, like The Interpreter, The Manchurian Candidate, Air Force One, Patriot Games, etc… I remember my aunt telling me (who is always telling me something…) about KMT spies being on college campuses as I went off to college. So when Will Tiao was trying to raise money for the film, this quickly got written up in the Taiwanese and American press. If you or someone you know who is Chinese or Taiwanese that lives in the Chicago area, and might be interested, be sure to pass the info along!

A week or two ago I was fortunate enough to go to the 26th Annual San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival (Okay, seriously, when the acronym is longer than most English words, that is when you need you come up with a snappier name.) The Center for Asian American Media had an interactive display where people could talk into a MacBook Pro and give their thoughts about San Francisco, Asian media and everything in between. They recently released the produced video, and what do you know, I make a cameo appearance along with Goh Nakamura. You’ll be able to tell it’s me by my fat face trying to say snarky things about hipsters.

(Thanks for the heads-up, Sylvia)