8 Asians

Mike Shinoda is widely known through his work with the band Linkin Park, although I’m more of a fan of his hip-hop/rap project Fort Minor and his album, The Rising Tied.

He also has a degree in illustration, and is a graduate from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. This past Sunday August 30th, Joz and I had the honor to go see Mike Shinoda at the Japanese American National Museum in LA’s Little Tokyo, where he presented artwork from his previous show Glorious Excess (Born) in 2008. (His other art exhibit, Diamond, Spades, Hearts and Clubs, was presented at Gallery 1988.)

I was totally hyped and anxious — not only go to see Mike Shinoda, but to also see what was in store regarding his art. The day started off with a JANM Members Only event — a conversation between him and Roger Gastman of Swindle Magazine. During this event, Mike touched on various topics from his influences and background in art to the character and story of Glorious Excess (Born and Dies). After his discussion, Mike took questions from the audience, where he gave some really personal and in-depth answers; he mentioned how people labeling his music drives him crazy — like “rock/rap,” which was funny because I later mentioned to him that was the type of music I liked.

After Mike took questions from the audience, we got to see a short video segment that is being played at the JANM exhibit (part of that segment is also in the video above). Then Mike took pictures, autographed catalogs and other items for those in attendance, while being extremely cool the whole time! On top of that, Mike graciously walked us through the entire exhibit at JANM and further discussed certain topics in regards to his art. One particular subject that he brought up was the idea of a sellout; he defined a sellout as being someone who loses their creative integrity, which correlates with the character in Glorious Excess. Overall, for me this was a once in a lifetime experience and this is something I will remember and share for the rest of my life. I thought Mike’s art exhibit was very interesting and I understood a lot more after reading more about it in his catalog. As for Mike Shinoda the person, I thought he was very cool and down-to-earth, as well as being very humble and considerate.

Glorious Excess (Dies) exhibits until October 4th, 2009. You should check it out if you can. For more information and background, see JANM.org and MikeShinoda.com. Many thanks to Koji at JANM.

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kennedyThis past week there have been many tributes to Senator Edward Kennedy, who passed away due to brain cancer. Kennedy’s most lasting legacy to the Asian American community will most likely be his championing to pass the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 which, as part of the Act, abolished the quota system limiting immigration from Asia.

The United States has had a terrible record of civil rights towards ethnic Chinese and Japanese, and prior to this immigration reform, few Asians were allowed to immigrate to the United States, let alone become American citizens. A national origins quota system was in place to mirror the largely white-ancestral makeup of the U.S.  Asian Americans previously made up 0.5% of the U.S. population, but as a direct result of this Act, now constitute approximately 5% of the United States.

My father received his Master’s degree in 1964, and I am sure that had the the Act had not passed, the likelihood that my father would have been able to remain in the United States (as well as bring my mother over from Taiwan as well) and eventually become an American citizen would have been quite unlikely. Having been born and raised in Massachusetts for all of my childhood, I’ve always appreciated that Senator Kennedy (as well as Senator Kerry) represented me and represented the soul of the Democratic Party.

Daul Kim: One Sassy ‘n Smart Bitch

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daul kimFamiliar with Korean supermodel Daul Kim? If not, you probably should because she can provide hours of procrastinating entertainment.

Aside from being a supermodel, Kim keeps a fascinating and entertaining blog, I Like To Fork Myself, which she updates on a regular basis. Her blog defies the idea of models as empty-headed mannequins. I mean, her posts aren’t exactly scholarly material, but there are some gems hidden amongst her cryptic one-liner posts and her non-sensical poetic entries. Her posts are a mish-mash of photos of her and her friends engaging in various day-to-day things (dress up! watermelon cocktails!), semi-analytical reflections on pop culture and in this case, an angry letter to Koreans about the backlash she received after shooting a nude editorial set for i-D Magazine back in June.

In her post, she says:

seriously korean ppl
stop bullying me

i dont owe you anything
and you dont own me

i respect korean culture as much as possible
im proud to be korean

sometimes i can be ab noxious i know,
but nudity in fashion can’t be considered ab noxious

ok did i ever have a dirty scandal? no
did i ever slut around? no
is i-D porn? no

do you guys bitch when you see a Caucasian model nude?
a japanese girl nude? a black girl nude?

and when its korean girl nude, you guys get made angry
and i can be blonde, red, pink haired if i want. im not trying to be anything else
i have every right to do what i want. if a white girl colours her hair black, do u say “oh shes trying to be asian”?

its so silly to restrict korean girl has to be a certain way
this is superiority complex and complex is not….flattering

I kind of love her for this post.  I think it’s an important one. Kim pits the oppression she faces as a Korean woman against those of other women of colour, which is definitely problematic. Her comment on Japanese and black women not getting flack for nudity is especially troubling because it is precisely the hyper-sexualization and exoticism that these women face that don’t get them in as much trouble. It is “expected” of Japanese and black women to be nude and sexual, at our service and convenience. However, her points on the expectations of Korean women to fit a certain prototype is something many racialized women struggle with.

Unfortunately for those who participated in the backlash against her, as a model, Kim’s body is what is valued and put on display for the world. And that is the reality of the modeling world. What is comforting, though, is that Kim seems to have a pretty strong sense of her self and her needs. She is smart, quirky and kinda just does her own thing.

My favourite Daul Kim post is this one, where she manages to compare Japanese manga Akira to science-fiction thriller, Tetsuo, get angry about Japanese colonialism in Korea and remind us that “official” history classes and textbooks don’t tell us the whole truth. I also enjoyed her pictures-only commentary on girl-on-girl hate. Never mind that she counters this social problem with a photo of the Spice Girls, the immortal and misrepresentative symbol of feminism. Despite a lot of her eyebrow-raising content, I still really like her.

[ EDITORS UPDATE: RIP Model Daul Kim ]

(Photo credit: I Like To Fork Myself.)

chinesecakeBoth mainland China and Taiwan are celebrating 60th birthdays in the coming months. Mainland China is celebrating the 60th anniversary of the People’s Republic, with a parade on October 1, along with a special blockbuster movie with over 170 famous Chinese actors to be released on Sept 17, Jian guo da ye , or “The Great Cause of China’s Foundation”. Security has been tightened in mainland China for the parade and coming events. Across the strait, Taiwan is celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Republic of China’s transfer of its capital from mainland China to the island of Taiwan To commemorate the occasion the National Museum of History has put together a special exhibition featuring a selection of documents, correspondence, maps and other written and printed materials held by people who were part of the two million who fled to Taiwan as Communist forces took over China.

The reason for these large celebrations is that the 60th birthday is one of the few celebrated in Chinese culture, and comes with much fanfare. Unlike in American culture, birthdays (other than for a newborn at 1 day, 1 month and for someone starting at age 60 and every 10 years after) are largely ignored in Chinese culture. The 60th birthday is celebrated because it means a person has lived a long life. When my parents turned 60 we held big birthday celebrations for them and celebrated their lives and their accomplishments. While a celebration at 60 is certainly something to look forward to, in American culture, it can be a bit traumatic to kids growing up in a Chinese American family not to have a birthday party.

In my case, I had never had a birthday party until I went away to college. I happened to mention the strange fact to a dorm friend my freshman year and my entire dorm floor surprised (and completely floored me) by having a surprise party for my 18th birthday. After that party, my birthday celebrations have remained relatively low key, involving just close friends and family. Recently, birthday parties have returned with a vengeance in my life in recent years, with the birth of my daughter who turned four this year. Unlike my childhood in America, hers is filled with big birthday bashes (not only her own, but her cousins as well), and she’s come to expect a big cake, presents, and lots of people at her party. I think I spoil her, and give her everything I wished I had in a birthday party when I was growing up. I hope she appreciates it when she’s older!

chinesefamilyOne of my favorite movies this summer and this year is the romantic comedy & tragedy (500) Days of Summer, following the ups and downs of a relationship between Tom and Summer over 500 days in non-chronological random order. At 87% “fresh”, there are certainly a lot of other films which have larger marketing budgets and are more promoted, but a lot less enjoyable than this film.

But there’s one scene in the movie when both Tom and Summer are playing “house” in an Ikea store in Los Angeles where the two are lying down on a bed and see a family watching them, and Tom makes the observation and comment:

“Honey, I don’t know how to say this, but there’s a Chinese family in our bathroom.”

When I watched that, I thought to myself, “Why does Chinese equal comedy here? ” I wonder how moviegoers would have felt or reacted if the family had been black, Hispanic or Native American? How about just:

“Honey, I don’t know how to say this, but there’s a family in our bathroom.”

Isn’t it funny enough that there would an unknown family in a bathroom while the two were playing house in their supposed Ikea bedroom? Maybe I am being a bit over sensitive, but I thought I’d call this out while still encouraging all those who haven’t seen the film to see it. If you’ve seen the film – what do you think?

Besides the clever execution of the storyline, the soundtrack to the movie is just fantastic and really adds to the mood of the movie, including Sweet Disposition, Vagabond and She’s Got You High.

Yes, you read that correctly. Back in 2004, a whale exploded in the city streets of Tainan, Taiwan.

Before you assume that Taiwanese geniuses have developed some sort of biological weapon of mass destruction, you should know that this accident happened while some marine scientists were trying to move a 56-foot, 6-ton sperm whale from the ocean (where it had died) to a research facility to perform a necropsy on it. Unfortunately, while the whale was being transported through a busy city street, the whale literally burst open due to the gasses from decomposition building up in his* abdomen. It splattered whale blood, blubber and entrails over surrounding cars, bystanders, and storefronts. Bits of bloody whale bits were found blocks away.

I know this because Yoshi & I watched a fascinating British documentary entitled “The Whale that Exploded” on the National Geographic Channel and although I was totally grossed out by some of the footage from the scene, I couldn’t help but to keep watching. This documentary actually came out about a year ago and it explored the various contributing factors as to why this happened, along with eyewitness reports and photos of the bloody mess.

I’ve been trying to convince Yoshi to join me on a trip to Taiwan later this year, but this program did not help my cause. As a horrified Yoshi watched images of bloody whale intestines laying next to a moped, I heard the words, “I am not going to a place where whales explode in the streets!” being uttered over and over.

“Actually,” I stated matter-of-factly, “Only ONE whale ever exploded in the streets of Taiwan. And it’s probably not going to happen again since they’ve already learned the lesson the hard way.” Let’s not let one teeny tiny whale explosion totally ruin the Taiwanese tourism industry, shall we?

You can catch this program as an episode of NatGeo’s “Wild” series and get all the gory details about the whale explosion — if you dare.

*Did you notice I said “his?” How do we know that the sperm whale was a male? Photos of a 5 foot long schlong protruding from the whale carcass was pretty good evidence!

8 Questions for Asians Arts Museum

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lord-its-the-samuraiAs previously blogged by Moye, the Asians Arts Museum — note the plural, it’s what threw me off — is a pretty detailed parody site of the Lords of the Samurai exhibit in San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum. So much so that I forwarded their press release to the active blogger’s e-mail list, thinking it was a legitimate attempt for the museum to gain additional attendance by focusing on Korean slaves and their penchant for Shudō, the samurai tradition of man-boy love.

The jokes on me for that one, obviously, but given how much time and detail had been put into the website, I was curious as to the person or team behind this: do they have a problem with the museum? With samurais? A bunch of us bloggers collected some questions — some serious, others not so much — and we conducted an e-mail interview with the anonymous Asians Arts Museum staff. You’ll find their answers after the jump; you may be interested in what they have to say.
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Another year, another season of Survivor and — for better or for worse now — another token Asian contestant.  This year’s Asian contestant on Survivor: Samoa comes in the form of 33 year old Liz Kim, an attorney out of New York City. For those wondering if she’s going to play the typical dragon lady role like previous Asian women on Survivor — Shii Ann of Survivor: Thailand, I’m talking about you — don’t be so sure of that, as Andy of RealityBlurred recently had a chance to travel to Samoa to interview all twenty contestants and thought Liz “shy and demure,” and was so forgettable that he “seriously [doesn’t] recall talking to” her. That combined with the fact that I haven’t seen her in any major CBS promos probably means that she doesn’t make much of an impact this season; as much as I hate to say it, my prediction is that she’ll be the first one voted off the island.

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  • A Hidden Side of Beauty: Hazards Facing Nail Salon Workers – Part of South Bay First Thursdays, a panel discussion uncovering the true health cost of a $16 manicure: nail salon workers — mostly immigrant Asian women — are chronically exposed to harmful chemicals. Community organizers are leading the charge for social justice in the nail salon industry. (9/3, San Jose, CA: More info here.)

asiansartmuseum

Being Asian American is hard, but can you imagine how much more complicated it is to be an Asian American BLOGGER? And life only gets harder each moment with the sheer amount of Asian American news that you have to read, digest and write about. Asian Americans in the health care crisis! Another politician running for mayor! Hollywood portrays Asian Americans in a negative way yet again! *Cue world’s tiniest violin*

So at times, we get confused. It’s understandable. We here at 8Asians naturally view everything Asian-related with a serious and critical outlook, even when it’s not really meant to be. Joz’s 6’4″ cousin is signed to Ford Models: what does this say about the cultural stereotype of emasculated Asian American males in US pop culture? Wait, he’s just a hot guy? No, there has to be more meaning behind this!

This train of thought can lead to fun times on our internal email list, especially when Ernie suggested that someone covers the “Lord, It’s The Samurai” exhibit — which includes a section on Samurai man/boy love — at the “Asians Art Museum.” To which, this exchange occurs:

Efren: Honestly, isn’t this a parody/response from the real Asian Art Museum exhibit about the Samurai? I don’t think this is from the museum.
Ernie: From what I can gather, it doesn’t look to be a parody.
Efren: Actually it is. This is the real page Asian Art Museum’s samurai website: http://www.asianart.org/Samurai.htm The parody is asiansart.org, not asianart.org.
Ernie: Damn. To quote Moye, “samurai pnwed.”

Oh snap! I’ve seen people get tricked by sneaky ninjas, but samurais bring this to a whole new level.

On a more serious note, the Asians Art Museum (where “Asian still means Oriental”) showcases a creative method of protest against what many assume to be a well intentioned exhibit, The Lords of the Samurai, at the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco. Who knew that the history of samurais could evoke the disdain of today’s critics? We all may not find the parody site to be humorous, but it’s refreshing to see a unique approach to how our community can objectify our own culture for the public.

With that said, I’m off to iron my Gothic Lolita outfit.

[EDITORS NOTE: A follow-up interview has been posted here.]

By Maricris

Imagine talking to someone and everything sounds like gibberish, yet the person talking to you is also speaking in English.

Doesn’t that frustrate you sometimes? I’m sure it does and the culprit is mostly our accents and how we pronounce our words.

Surprisingly, this is not solely isolated in the US. Take the Philippines, which has 180 spoken languages with varied tonal and regional accents. If there were two people in a room are from different regions and are chatting with each other and both speak Tagalog — the official language of the country — I can guarantee you that there will be a big chance they won’t understand each other. The way words are spoken and pronounced are always the key ingredient to better communication. You just have to speak the lingo!

Similarly, US seem to have the same issue. They have regional and tonal accents depending on what side of the country they’re from. This variety also poses as a hurdle and makes it harder for most Asians to adapt while already struggling to lose their native tongues to achieve speech discernability.

According to Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, initial exposure to foreign and regional accents can trigger a delay in word identification, but that repeated exposure results in better comprehensibility. I can personally attest to this; six straight years of speaking mainly English on a daily basis has proved beneficial. The immersion and exposure made it easier for me to communicate without uttering the annoying “say that again” or the “what did you just say?” most times.

Strangely though, a lot of people tell me that now I sound and talk differently, like I was born here and have always spoken the language. Immersion would do that to you, but it’s not perfect — there are certain words that I still mispronounce. And no matter what my Mom says after she overhears me speaking to someone in straight, nonstop barrage of English that I’m “Americanized”, it will not change the fact that I’m Asian and I will occasionally blunder the pronouns her and his! Who else have this problem? It is annoying even to me.

ABOUT MARICRIS: Maricris shares her journeys in life through her personal blog ZenVentures, her views on being Asian in Toasty Brown, her insight as a working mother in Working Mother Magazine, and who’s creative side can be found at Golden Flower Creations.

(Flickr photo credit: timothy b. buckwalter)

Daniel Liu #1
After I asked for people to keep an eye out for my cousin Daniel as his image begins appearing in commercial ads, I began receiving requests from people for asking for “introductions” and “more hot pixxx pls!” Um, sorry… no can do on the former — but the latter is do-able!

The awesome Disgrasian gals have tapped him as their Babewatch: Babe of the Week and in that spirit, I’ll share some pictures that John Tan Casting was the first to post: Daniel’s photos of “The Outlaw” by Karl Simone, along with the following short interview:

Full Name: Daniel Liu
Hometown: Los Angeles
Age: 26

Discovery/How did you get into modeling: My sister sent in some digital photos from a modeling contest I’d won and I got a call from Ford shortly after that. She never told me she submitted them so I was surprised to get a phone call from the main agent in LA.

Previous career before entering the wonderful world of modeling: I’ve had a couple career jobs before modeling but this is what I love doing most. I get to work with and meet great people, travel, and have flexibility in my schedule. It is perfect for me at the moment.

Other career goals: I definitely have some plans for the future that are aside from modeling. I’d like to own my own business at some point and to also impact some kind of positive change with whatever resources I have. Whether it’s helping the environment, providing for the homeless, or sending medicine overseas, I definitely want to help in any way that I can.

Favorite hobbies: I really enjoy working out, staying healthy, playing the guitar, watching movies, and spending time with the people I love. I can have fun doing just about anything when I’m in the right company.

Favorite music/films: I listen to different music to match my moods. When I’m just getting through the day, I like listening to The Kooks, Arctic Monkeys, Keane, The Shins, or lots of Indie Rock. When I’m trying to mellow out or wind down after a long day, it’s Dave Matthews, Ben Harper, or something relaxing. As far as my favorite movies go, Top Gun is definitely one of them. I also liked the films Fight Club and Pulp Fiction.

How did you enjoy doing this shoot? I loved working with the team. They were amazing to work with and very professional.

People will be surprised to know this about me: I can be serious at times, but really I’m a guy that loves to have fun. I work hard but I also enjoy the little things in life.

Ok, ok, sorry I made you go through all that when I know people really just want to see the pictures. (Hey! I want people to know what an awesome person Daniel is and that there’s more to him than just being good looking! Is that so wrong?!) But be warned… you may see more of Daniel than you asked for! (More photos after the jump; click to — um — embiggen.)
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