8 Asians

We’ve blogged about Dawen’s fantastic YouTube covers of songs before, and for those of you in New York, you’re in luck — Dawen’s in an Empire state of mind and will be in your neighborhood as part of the New York leg of his “American Me” Tour, December 4th to the 7th. Performance venues include Silk Road Cafe, Vassar College, The Bitter End and Googie’s Lounge.

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david_chiuI’ve blogged many times about San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors President David Chiu: his initial run for Supervisor for District 3, the possibility of him being the first acting Asian-American mayor of San Francisco should current mayor Gavin Newsom step down. This past weekend, The San Francisco Chronicle did its most in-depth profile of Chiu to date, covering Chiu’s biography from growing up in Boston to his current governing style and success as Board of Supervisor:

“While Chiu is credited with bringing a tone of civility back to City Hall and being a tough, but fair, negotiator, it hasn’t come without consequences. Chiu’s critics say he isn’t forceful enough, complain about his inability to keep some of his allies in line and malign his reticence to leave the president’s dais and debate colleagues on the floor. … But conservatives and liberals have been less than enamored with his distaste for conflict. The left complains he’s not tough enough on the mayor. The right bemoans his inability to control members of his base. “Chiu doesn’t have that much tolerance for political pain,” said Supervisor Chris Daly. “He’s the leader of the Board of Supervisors and a member of the progressive camp without being a leader of the progressives.””

What pains me in these complaints is that this traditional characterization perpetuates the stereotype of Asian Americans being passive or non-confrontational, especially since the Chronicle did an earlier story in the beginning of the year on Chiu as he entered office, one titled “New head of S.F. supes seen as no pushover.” This commentary sends a mixed message – lauding Chiu bringing civility back to City Hall, yet not being confrontational enough to take partisan stands.

So what’s the solution? Perhaps the model for governing and leadership all along has been wrong, or can other styles or expectations of leadership be successful, even if they are not what is “standard” or status quo. In the age of Fox News and MSNBC and personalities of Glenn Beck and Keith Olbermann, its seems like there can be no middle ground when it comes to analyzing a policy or leadership style on its own merits.

In the context of the article, a lot of the descriptions of Chiu describe a somewhat “model minority” Asian American upbringing, from Chiu playing the violin to having his parents making him study hard. But Chiu did take a non-traditional career path than most by interning or working in local governent from the New York mayor’s office and the city controller’s office, Democratic Sen. Paul Simon’s office, as a full-time staffer for Simons before moving to San Francisco.

The city of San Francisco, the state of California and the United States is in a big fiscal mess right now. We need more leaders like David Chiu rather than less to tackle the very serious issues at hand and focus on solving the problems rather than bickering through partisan lenses. (Easier said than done, of course.)

I have always found rhythmic gymnastics much more aesthetically pleasing and less “brute force” than the standard gymnastics with the balance beam & vault. Both are amazing sports, but given my preference for dance, rhythmic gymnastics seems to require musicality and art infused with athleticism.

While I was familiar with individual rhythmic gymnastics, I recently found out that there is a whole new sector of rhythmic gymnastics that is a team sport. Check out the video above — I found the sustained poses really beautiful, with synchronicity that a group of ballet swans could only hope for. The complicated group movements seem effortless, and the tumbling passes really beautiful, especially when team members intertwine with each other in complicated and breath-defying near-misses.

This men’s group is from Aomori University in Japan. This music is also a step up from standard gymnastics as well.

PrintHip Hop culture happens to be one of the many avenues Filipino-Americans have taken to and identify with. It only seems natural to host an benefit that revolves around the Hip Hop culture for the people of the Philippines who have been affected by Typhoon Ondoy.

The Individual Collective Gallery of Vallejo, CA. holds an event called Open Session Saturdays, happening the second and fourth Saturday of each month. Each OSS event consists of live painting, open mic, musical performances, rapping cyphers. I’ve been fortunate enough to witness impromptu jam sessions and to photograph the event a few times.

This upcoming Saturday, the IC Gallery is kind enough to collaborate with a few people to host a benefit for the communities in the Philippines affected by Typhoon Ondoy, aka Typhoon Ketsana. If there is a OSS event to go check out, it’s this one.

For more information, please read the information on the flier or click this link.

I caught this on the news the other night and was happy to see U.S. Army Specialist Johnny Nguyen returning to his home in San Jose for the first time since being injured and being greeted by friends and family, as well as sixty Patriot Guard Riders.

Johnny was in his second tour in Iraq since January and in June was injured when a road side bomb exploded. Doctors had to amputate his leg and he has been recovering at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio ever since. Johnny was home tonight for Thanksgiving and will return for further treatment and rehabilitation.

Rarely do we see Asian Americans serving in the armed forces, so it’s always great to see Americans such as Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki, Baldwin Yen, or another local hero and former Mayor of Sunnyvale, California Otto Lee serving our country. Best of luck, Johnny Nguyen! Thank you for your sacrifice for our country.

My Asian American Thanksgiving

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Relyenong manok

While we have written about Asian American perspectives on Thanksgiving, Korean American Thanksgivings, and Asian fusion Thanksgiving recipes, I thought I’d share my Thanksgiving.   As per my family’s tradition, we went to my sister-in-law’s house for Thanksgiving, a trip of about 2 minutes.  While we had traditional American food like turkey and stuffing, we mix it with lots of Filipino food.

This is rellenong manok, a chicken stuffed with a meatloaf-like filling.  Like I say here, I really love all things rellenong, especially with banana ketchup.  It’s already had chunks taken out of it because we were late to the party.  I can’t help being late – it’s in my genes I think!   Already there at the party were my parents, The Wife’s parents, lots of in-laws, and assorted boyfriends.  My niece’s boyfriend’s parents were even there, and I am told that they were anxious to try Filipino food (they are white).  We definitely were ready for them.

More of my Thanksgiving after the jump.

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Asian American Commercial Watch: Citibank

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Citibank has been advertising their 2.75% Certificate of Deposit, via this commercial featuring an older Asian American man playing and having fun with his dog along with cheerful music playing in the background. I guess Citibank thinks 2.75% CD is a reason to smile more, but 2.75% is pathetically low for an investment, but it’s better than LOSING money after this past year’s financial debacle.

Having served spent some time in the South Bay, people would know that Campbell, California is a sleepy suburb of already sleepy metropolitan San Jose, California. Not much happens in Campbell — wasn’t someone from Sugar Ray from there? — but this is something interesting: SFist is reporting that 26 year old vice-mayor Evan Low is “expected to be selected by the city council to serve as mayor.” Not only would this make him the youngest Asian-American mayor in the United States, but it would make him the youngest openly gay mayor in the United States. Better be careful not to hit on the wrong guy at Tinker’s Damn; your garbage may never be picked up again.

Celebrity Chef Ming Tsai Take on Thanksgiving

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Goddard & Morrow Fan Event

Last week, Nightline did a profile on Chef Ming Tsai and his take on two Thanksgiving dishes, with an Asian influence. They looked yummy – “8 Treasure Sticky Rice Stuffing” and “Ming’s Turkey Noodle Soup.” Let me know if any of you tried out his recipes and how it turned out.

Ming Tsai was pretty funny in parts of the interview:

I had a couple rules growing up: Be anything you want, as long as it’s a doctor, lawyer, engineer. Get any grades you want, as long as they’re straight A’s. And marry anyone you want, if they’re Asian that’d be even better. I’m 0 for 3, not even close.”

Kind of your stereotypical Asian American parents pressuring their kids, but I got the basically the same rules. He also mentioned that while growing up in Dayton, Ohio for 18 years – “Chinatown was when had the other 3 Chinese families over for dinner. Our house was Chinatown.” which cracked me up, since that was basically how I felt while growing up in Western Massachusetts as well.

(c) FreeFoto.com

(c) FreeFoto.com

As Thanksgiving approaches and my extended family tries to figure out what to prepare, I have been thinking about how my Thanksgivings when I was growing up were a fusion of Asian and American.  Turkey and white rice.  Cranberries and lumpia.  Along that line of thinking, three Asian American perspectives on Thanksgiving caught my eye.  First, this post by Frances Kai-Hwa Wang talks about how her family used to try to imitate traditional Thanksgiving meals and how Thanksgiving became more meaningful and more tasty when they began to create their own multicultural traditions.   Second, I really like this post by Eric Nakamura, of Giant Robot fame, on one of his Thanksgivings, which mixes sashimi and turkey.  The pictures are mouth watering!  The third perspective comes from SSH…Thanks-Givin.. Thanksgiving, an essay by Andrew Lam, author of Perfume Dreams: Reflections on the Vietnamese Diaspora.  He talks about his very first Thanksgiving after arriving from Vietnam and what Thanksgiving now means to him.

How do you as Asian Americans celebrate Thanksgiving?  As a strictly American holiday?  Do you fuse Asian and American elements like sashimi and turkey?  Do you not celebrate it at all?

RIP Model Daul Kim

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Daul-KimI’m not too into the fashion model industry, but it still broke my heart over the news last week that South Korean Daul Kim passed away in Paris from an apparent suicide, especially with the knowledge that depression and suicide among Asian women are so often overlooked. Daul has been featured on the site before for her edgy looks and unique personality — I mean, how often can you find a beautiful model with her own blog that wasn’t just about the runway — and it’s an unfortunate end to what was a promising career on the runway. Kim’s blog has since been locked up (which is a blessing, since who knows how many people with a morbid curiosity would want to troll through it) but a quick perusal of her videos from Fashion Week show that we’ve truly lost a unique voice in the Asian community.

For those of you who are fans, OMGKPOP will be sending messages left in the comments to her family, so please leave your condolences there.

Disney is remaking its hit film High School Musical as a Chinese movie. This film marks Disney’s third co-production in China after The Magic Gourd in 2007 and this year’s Trail of the Panda.

The film will feature six newcomers for the lead roles. Shooting will occur in Shanghai and the film is scheduled for a summer 2010 release. Chen Shizheng, considered an unusual choice because he is better known as a stage director, will direct the film. Disney’s annoucement of this new film production comes on the heels of the announcement of a new Disney theme park in Shanghai.

The original High School Musical film was released in 2006, airing in 30 languages and over 100 countries.