8 Asians

Last year, during the depths of the financial crises, groups of investors from China toured the US looking at real estate opportunities.  While many in the US real estate industry hoped that this would bring a wave of Chinese buying, this article from the New York Times says that Chinese are being Looky Lous – checking out properties but not buying.  I supposed this is dependent on location.   My realtor brother-in-law, who lives with my family in Silicon Valley, said last year that Chinese and other Asian investors are driving sales in our local real estate market. I asked him about this article, and he informs me that the situation is pretty much the same as last year.  The article also says that some Chinese buying is driven by parents whose children are studying in the US.  This is not surprising as more and more Chinese students are going to college in the US.

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7-3 Center Max Zhang Growing in Berkeley


Max Zhang

You might wonder how UC Berkeley 7-3 center Max Zhang could have room to grow, but he’s growing in many ways:

Growing in size.  How could a 7-3 man grow in size?  Not in terms of height, but in bulk.  His coaches say that he needs to add bulk and strength, as he arrived from China weighing only 208 pounds.  Cal coach Mike Montgomery arranged from a visa for Zhang’s mom to come to Berkeley to cook for him and basically fatten him up – an ideal job for an Asian mom!  His mother was constantly shoving dumpings in his face, and now he’s up to 245.  Amazing.  I have to say that I didn’t any help to gain weight in college!

Growing in skill and comfort on and off of the court.  Max has adjusted to life in Berkeley.  It took at lot to get used to classes in English, but he worked hard at it.  It helps that UC Berkeley is 40% Asian.  “It’s not much different than walking on a college campus in China,” he says of the school. “I see the Asian faces. It makes me feel like it’s home.”  His coach says that he is work in progress, but he clearly is improving as he scored 13 points in a win over rival Stanford.  To help him get more aggressive (and less stereotypical!), his conditioning coach has him doing boxing drills.

Growing in popularityJeremy Lin has grown wildly in popularity, and I fear that he may sag under the weight of Asian-American expectations.  Although Zhang is not the starting center, he seems to be a fan favorite.  His coaches may be trying to make him tougher and meaner, but his niceness makes him wildly popular.   How much do the fans love him?  He missed 5 out of 6 free throws at a game with U.C. Santa Barbara, but nearly got a standing ovation on the make!

There’s a Call for Artists for the Asian Heritage Street Celebration Poster Contest in San Francisco. The Asian Heritage Street Celebration, Kearny Street Workshop, and NEW PEOPLE are hosting the annual poster competition for the 6th Annual Asian Heritage Street Celebration. The yearly festival is to be held on Saturday, May 15, 2010 in front of the Asian Art Museum leading up to the Little Saigon District.

Organizers are looking for innovative artists to create an exciting and unique image. The winning artwork will become part of the personality for this year’s event and will be featured in posters, postcards, Muni bus ads, BART banners, bus shelters, newspaper ads and in a TV commercial. The winner will also earn a $500 grand prize and citywide exposure. Instructions for entering can be found at www.asianfairsf.com. The deadline is February 12, 2010.

Wait, hold on for a second. How did I miss this? Wall Street’s Sad Panda, an endearing New York character that Gothamist discovered almost a year ago, is not just some weird furry but an elderly Chinese man who had lost his job. While his wife works seven days a week as a private nurse, he seeks out a meager income by posing with tourists in an adorably (and unintentionally) forlorn panda suit (and sometimes Spongebob Squarepants).

Last November, Columbia grad student Michelle Tay posted this exclusive interview with 62 year old Jialing Chen, who tells his heartbreaking story about losing his job and his new life inside the panda suit. It’s a touching story about surviving in New York, a city that can be as unforgiving to its citizens as it is exhilarating.

Is the magic gone from these amazing photos of a Sad Panda wandering the streets of busy Manhattan? I say no. We’ve just uncovered a different story: one that follows the harsh but creative world of a struggling immigrant. I also need to pay more attention to my Sad Panda news.

If any of our readers are out in New York right now, please drop a weekend tip in his jar for us. We’ll pay you back.

PS. Don’t forget. Pandas are still vicious creatures when they aren’t sad.

Chinese in America? Join the Wall


The World Expo 2010 is scheduled to take place this year from May 1 to October 31 in Shanghai. The USA Pavilion, in partnership with the Committee of 100, will feature an exhibit on “The Chinese in America”. The objective is to show America’s unique strengths as a nation embracing diversity, offering freedom of choice and providing the opportunity for everyone to succeed.

Chinese Americans have the opportunity to be part of the the upcoming Shanghai Expo by submitting their photo, family name, place of ancestry and current city of residence in the U.S. for an exhibit displaying a video wall of photos of Chinese Americans (a small sample is shown here). You do need to select a Chinese surname to be placed under the specific surname family page. The example given is that your name can be listed as John Wong Smith and it would be placed with the Wong Family name page.

It’s expected the Expo will draw more than seventy million people and 200 nations for 180 days. The Committee of 100 is encouraging everyone of Chinese descent in the U.S.A. to submit their photos online to create The Wall of the Chinese in America. In the first week of their announcement, over 1000 photos have already been submitted for the wall. The goal is to reach 100,000 photos sorted by family name to demonstrate that “We are Family.”

You can upload your own photo at jointhewall.org. Everyone who is of Chinese descent is welcome to participate. Asianweek explains the idea behind the wall:

The idea for the wall came through a collaboration between Committee of 100 and Ogilvy Worldwide and is the only section specifically for Chinese in America. Since the video wall will be dynamic and attention getting, there are plans for certain effects to also highlight Chinese American achievements along with recognizing the Chinese in America. Chinese American achievers can be those who have contributed to important aspects of American life such as technology, the environment, the arts, sports, business, community service and government. It will show how America, as a cradle of freedom, helped shape these extraordinary pioneers.

If you’d like to contribute to the effort, you can make a donation at comebuildthewall.org. All donations are tax deductible.

I just recently completed my entry for the wall, and although I chose Fujian as my Chinese place of ancestry, I was happy to see that Taiwan was also included as a choice (please no flames about Taiwanese not being Chinese – if you choose to believe you’re Chinese that’s fine, and if you don’t that’s fine too). There’s also the ability for parents to submit pictures of their children (assuming you want to and you give consent).

George Koo, C100 member from Silicon Valley, commented about the wall: “This would be of special interest to the native Chinese, who no doubt would be the majority of people visiting the Shanghai Expo 2010, to look for and possibly see long lost relatives living in America.” I doubt any lost relatives will find me this way, but you never know.

By Kristian

Chicago is home to many talented Asian rap artists, dance groups, and acoustic guitar players.  As former resident of the Windy City, I thought I’ve seen all the acts from Asian talents. Northwestern University Treblemakers caught my attention for their diverse repertoire includes styles from vocal jazz, contemporary American pop to hiphop and Asian pop.

This premiere East Asian a cappella group started in Fall 2004 by Christine Liu a Music Composition major. The Treblemakers are Northwestern University’s only a cappella group that specializes in both East Asian and American genres of music. What separates the Treblemakers from the other a cappella groups at Northwestern is their performances in English, Japanese, and Mandarin.

The Treblemakers rendition of “I Don’t Wanna Wait” by Paula Cole is the first video I saw from this talented Asian American a cappela group.  This performance was filmed back in 2008 but it left a big impression on me especially with their soloist Judy Hsu.  Also, this video brought back memories of my huge crush on Katie Holmes.  And yes, I watched Dawson Creek back in the day and I’m not afraid to admit it.  Keep an eye out for this Asian American a cappella group and you can view more their performances on their YouTube Channel.

About Kristian: Kristian is the creator and blogger of Fil-Am Ako.

The Top 10 Marketers to Asian Americans


One of the few things that I look forward to when I have to go to my Wells Fargo bank branch is looking at the photo murals there.  On one wall are long ago scenes of Chinatowns and also pictures of the Filipino farm workers from the 1920s and 1930s.  Wells Fargo also has a history blog from their archivists, which occasionally covers Asian American history.  As it sponsors  a blog featuring Asian American history and with an ad that shows Asian American couples as regular folks, Wells Fargo is not surprisingly on an Ad Age list of the top 10 marketers to Asian Americans.

(Flickr photo credit: webchicken)

Other top marketers on the list are ToyotaJC Penney and McDonalds. Toyota has been a sponsor of the San Francisco Asian American Film Festival.  JC Penney had a marketing effort targeting Asian Americans, where they commissioned a wonderful little song by David Choi and Kina Grannis.   The McDonalds ad on the left is on a bus in San Francisco, and McDonald’s also has a web site targeted at Asian Americans – www.myinspirasian.com.

I wouldn’t necessarily buy a product just because they show Asian Americans or use a language that’s familiar to me (my Asian BMI doesn’t need any Big Macs), but doing so does get me to notice, which is half the battle in advertising.  Finally, it’s good to see a top 10 list, especially compared to  advertisers on the bottom end such as KFC or Salesgenie.com.

Facebook Reunites Vietnam Vet Father and Son


I’m a Facebook newbie — some might even call me an anti-Facebookie. It’s not that I’m anti; it’s that I didn’t get on board with all the hype and hullabaloo.

I caved and joined the craze not too long ago and I have to admit, it’s been nice to find old friends and connect with new ones. I still prefer the person to person hangout and interactions, but Facebook does its thing. I even reconnected with an old high school bud and actually met up with him in person. Yeah, wow.

Facebook did not just help this sista out — it was instrumental in reuniting a long-lost son with his Vietnam Vet Dad.  Peter McKibben was able to connect with his long-lost son via messages on Facebook. I like a happy ending as much as the next person, and I’m happy for McKibben and the happy ending he got, thanks to Facebook.

The recent Freshman survey by the Higher Education Research Institute (Heri) has received a lot of press over its discovery that freshman have a hard time paying for college and are worried about their finances. Buried in that report is something interesting about Asian-American students. It turns out Asian-American students work harder to get more education.

33.8% of Asian-American high school student take 5 – 9 AP classes vs. just 15.4% for White-Americans and 18.9% for Hispanic-Americans according to the report.

This difference isn’t because Asian-American students live in areas with more access to advanced classes. It turns out Asian-Americans actually have less access to AP courses than White or Hispanic-Americans. 5.8% of Asian Americans reported that AP courses aren’t available at their school versus 5.3% for White-Americans and 3.6% for Hispanic-Americans.

From the report:

However, Asian American students are more than twice as likely to take between 5 to 9 AP courses in high school compared to White students (33.8% and 15.4%, respectively). Asian American students are also four times more likely (6.4%) to report taking between 10 to 14 AP courses in high school compared with White students (1.5%).

One obvious explanation of this difference is that Asian-American students are simply more driven to educate themselves, as suggested in a recent article. I was certainly no exception; and when I was in high school loaded up on AP classes. I ended up getting enough credits to finish my five year college dual-degree program in four years. Most of my friends thought I was a little crazy; but I was happy to save myself from taking out more loans for an extra year of tuition. I’m sure my parents were pretty happy about that as well. But unlike most kids with immigrant parents, I never felt like I was pushed to work harder. I certainly only got approval from my parents when I succeeded, but they never told me to take AP classes or to work harder at school. As an Asian-American, did you push yourself to take harder classes, or was it your parents?

After serving a year in Iraq as a logistics officer helping with the U.S. withdrawal, former mayor, current Sunnyvale council member and Navy reservist Otto Lee returned back to the Bay Area. The last time I saw Otto was back in July when Otto was on leave from Iraq after serving there for six months. As I have mentioned before, I cannot imagine leaving my wife and two young children and spending a year in a war zone; I’ve always been amazed at his wife Sally’s strength when Otto was away. Whenever I had heard of any bombings and causalities of war in Iraq, I always prayed for Otto’s safety.

For those interested in honoring Commander Otto Lee, there is a dinner for him on Friday, February 5th from 7:00 to 9:00 pm:

“Please join Congressmembers Anna Eshoo, Mike Honda, & Zoe Lofgren in welcoming home Commander Otto Lee and sharing our sincere appreciation for his service in Iraq

Dynasty Restaurant
10123 N. Wolfe Rd.
Cupertino, CA 95014

Individual $125
Table: $1,250
Event Co-Host: $2,400

Please RSVP at [email protected] / (415) 850-8628. A portion of your contributions will be donated to USO to benefit our troops and their families.”

Honestly, I’m surprised this hasn’t been done sooner: on the heels of the awesome Star Trek remake that was done last summer, a recently released porn’s just been released parodying Star Trek called This Ain’t Star Trek XXX 2. (Note: This link is NSFW — so do NOT look at this at work — or at least where people will wonder what the hell you’re doing.)

What’s cool about this porno is that there’s someone who plays a Sulu analogue, Keni Styles.  What’s also very cool — to most of you anyway, me notsomuch — is that he’s straight, AND he gets laid. Apparently in the first installment, the obviously named This Ain’t Star Trek XXX, Sulu’s character didn’t get any. (Again, this link is NSFW.)

Considering I’m not really that much into straight porn, it was a surprise to see Keni Styles in this video since he had done some, ahem, solo scenes geared for a gay audience, especially since there are practically no well known straight Asian male porn stars;  there are considerably more Asian male porn stars for us gay men. Indeed, his Wikipedia page notes that he’s apparently the “first” straight Asian male porn star (albeit he’s based in the UK and is originally from Thailand). Thinking back, I honestly can’t think of any other straight Asian male porn stars out there.  Which begs the question: with all the straight Asian guys bitching about no representation in media, mainstream or otherwise — why aren’t Asian guys willing to perform in straight porn?

[EDITORS UPDATE: This Ain’t Star Trek XXX 2 has NOT been released as of the time of this blog post: a photographer informed us in the comments section that Sulu’s scene will be filmed next week. Sorry for the confusion!]

Photo used with permission from Jeff Koga. (Caption courtesy of Ernie)

The Bloggies are the web’s longest-running non-profit, reader voted weblog awards. It’s like the Oscars for bloggers, but with no golden statue at the end. And like the Oscars, it’s an honor just to be nominated!

For the second year in a row, 8Asians is one of the five finalists for Best Group Blog in the 10th Annual Weblog Awards (aka the 2010 Bloggies)! It’s pretty cool to be listed alongside The Huffington Post, Lifehacker, Serious Eats and Momversation. We’re also one of the few Asian American blogs that have ever been nominated. Yay, us!

Since we’re up against such stiff competition, I’m going to take a a moment to do a short “It’s great being nominated” speech:

*ahem* Thank you to all our commenters, contributors (both regular and guest), and other online friends for your participation and support of this blog. 8Asians is a total team effort! Even though we strive to show to diverse viewpoints of Asian Americans/Canadians, it’s great that we can all come together despite our differences to do amazing things! It’s such an honor to be recognized by other bloggers for what we do, but we couldn’t have done it without every single one of you. *hug, hug, cry, cry*

You can head over to 2010.bloggies.com to vote for us this week. Voting closes Sunday, January 31st at 10 PM, EST.