8 Asians

The Japanese gardener–once a fixture in American culture–is slowly dying away with the passing generations. The LA Times recently profiled the cultural phenomenon spurred by Japanese American families taking over the horticultural industry after World War II:  “At one time historians estimated that one in every four Japanese American men was a gardener. It was menial work that required weekends, but it allowed them to buy homes, send their kids to college. Some women joined their husbands or took over routes when widowed.” But with the incoming generations focusing on other careers, the once iconic Japanese gardener is soon becoming a thing of the past. My grandfather and his siblings grew up as migrant farmhands before being sent off to the internment camps and my local nursery is owned by a Japanese American family, so I could relate to how this article describes one of the many changes the JA community is experiencing. Let’s hope the history that these gardeners leave behind will be remembered in some way.

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Blush, formed in 2010 via an Asia-wide talent search, comprises of 5 girls from 5 different Asian countries. Already with a list of solid Billboard Dance Chart toppers such as “Undivided” and “Dance On.”

Their latest track “Miss Out” is a catchy tune that has yet exited my subconscious only to be replaced by PSY’s “Gangnam Style.”

Blush members Alisha, Angeli, Victoria, JiHae and Nacho failed to catch a cab on their promotional tour in NYC and were running late for the interview. The ladies not wanting for me to wait any longer instead ended up stealing Wi-Fi from…well watch the video.

Find out more about Blush at BlushBand.com.

Oh Asians. It’s not good enough to score a perfect 300, the highest score you can get in a bowling game. But Bill Fong, a happy-go-lucky bowler on the Lucky 8 bowling team in Plano, Texas is trying to prepare for a 900 – that’s three perfect games and 36 consecutive strikes in a row, because apparently ten, twenty or twenty-five strikes in a row just isn’t good enough.

Miami-based Joey Daoud is making the movie Strike, a short-documentary on Bill who is trying to accomplish this feat and be only the 22nd person in the history of bowling to do so. (In the recorded history of bowling anyway; all the bowling scores from the Sun Dynasty was wiped out in, you know, that typhoon.) Contribute to the Strike Kickstarter campaign for a chance to watch the short documentary, before it makes the film festival circuit.

Without a doubt, Park Chan-wook definitely knows how to tell a good story via stunning and shocking visuals and not just make it look like revenge porn (see Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Oldboy, and Sympathy for Lady Vengeance). His signature style unpredictable tension and dark characters is about to reach a broader audience with Stoker, his first crack at an English-speaking film.

The movie stars Nicole Kidman as Evelyn and Mia Wasikowska as her daughter, India. Based on the trailer, their relationship isn’t exactly loving. (Actually, I think Evelyn hates her in a Mommie Dearest kind of way, but with a lot more icy disdain.) When Uncle Charlie (Matthew Goode) pays a visit after the death of her father, things start to travel down that fantastically messed up Chan-wook road that we all know and love.

This movie just looks f*cked up and creepy. I can’t wait!!!

A note from Thick Dumpling Skin’s co-founder, Lisa Lee:

Almost a year ago, Retrofit Republic’s Community Heroes Lookbook landed on my radar.

I drooled over this lookbook at my desk, and almost died of happiness that they used real people in their fashion spreads. No wait, I take that back. I loved that they not only used real people in their fashion spreads, they wholeheartedly incorporated them and allowed fashion to ride on the wave of their stories.

That very day, the wheels in my head started to turn. I remember calling Lynn, so excitedly, and told her that I wanted to see something like that for Thick Dumpling Skin. I wanted us to highlight Asian American bodies and show off the beauty that carry us through thick and thin. They say that a picture speaks a thousand words, and how appropriate that we would use the very vehicle that has hurt us before, to change how we see ourselves?

Last week, we launched The Real Bodies Manifesto Lookbook with Retrofit Republic. Every time I see the images, and read the words of our models, I feel tiny goosebumps. However, since I am not fantastic with words, I’ve asked Yumi Pak, our most graceful model yet, to share some of her thoughts about the meaning of The Real Bodies Manifesto.

By Yumi Pak

Things I could have been nervous about, the day of the Real Bodies Manifesto photoshoot: BART running late; the makeup artist doing my eye makeup like I have a crease; being awkward in front of the camera.

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After watching the very first trailer for Pitch Perfect, I’ll admit, I immediately wrote it off as another irritating derivation of Glee. Even though it stars my beloved Anna Kendrick, I couldn’t wrap my head around this movie about university-level a capella competition. The trailer made it look too sanitized and sugary for my taste. I wanted something a bit more ironic, modestly crass, and clever — something that was a happy marriage of Bring it On and Drop Dead Gorgeous. However, the more and more I watched trailers and tidbits of this movie, the more the movie grew on me. Then I finally watched a screening of it and my initial snap judgments were proven wrong. Really wrong.

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2012 National Asian American Survey Results

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On Tuesday, the 2012 National Asian American Survey (NAAS) results were released (coincidentally on National Voter Registration Day). NAAS is a scientific and nonpartisan effort to poll the opinions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. The survey included over 3,300 telephone interviews. The survey was coordinated by Karthick Ramakrishnan, Director and Principal Investigator (associate professor, UC Riverside) and Taeku Lee, Principal Investigator (professor, UC Berkeley). There were some interesting findings, including:

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“I’m American, and I’m sorry” is my usual way of introducing myself to people when they hear my accent and get puzzled by its New England droll with Southerner slang coming from an Asian face. This was how I have always introduced myself when living outside of America, albeit facetiously to Australian and Canadian expats and with deferring humility to natives typically unfamiliar with Americans, let alone American diversity. The actual response from locals is a lot more “Oh hey, that’s cool! America! What’s it like?” than “Burn in hell, you sacrilegious Satan!” Their typical doses of Americana is the occasional viewing on pirated VCDs the latest Hollywood films; they all have better things to think about besides hating Uncle Gringo 24/7. Usually, they think about working to make ends meet, impressing the hot girl at school, and trying to avoid traffic without bribing police officers as their real priorities. When Innocence of Muslims debuted, nothing much changed in Jakarta or anywhere else from western to eastern Indonesia.

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As I had blogged previously, I took a red eye from San Francisco to Charlotte, North Carolina and arrived on Tuesday, September 4th in the morning for Day 1 of the 2012 Democratic National Convention (DNC). On Monday day, the DNC held their first meeting for the AAPI Caucus, but I wasn’t able to make it. On Day 2 of the convention, I was able to see all of speakers in the morning, despite being a few minutes late (damn parking!)

I wasn’t too sure what to expect for a caucus meeting, but there were at least a few hundred delegates and guests at the beginning of the meeting, as well as the press. I did see the D.C.-based news crew from Xinghua that I had met at the meet and greet the day before. Mostly, the speakers talked about the growing number of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States as well as their increasing involvement in public service and running for public office.

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Obama 44 Shirt, Wait 4-4?

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I was in the middle of a nice conversation on Facebook when this shirt popped up on my newsfeed. Yes, Obama is our 44th president. Yes, this hip and snazzy shirt was made available 44 days before election day. A shirt that says “OBAMA 44”? Totally makes sense. Except to people who speak Chinese and have a inkling of Chinese numeric-linguistic homonym sensibilities. Let me explain.

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EDITOR’S UPDATE: According to the San Jose Police Department and the Amber Viado Missing Facebook page, Amber was found safe on 9/24/2012. No other details are available. –Joz

My sons asked me if I had heard about the missing Presentation High School girl, Amber Viado, which struck me because I hadn’t heard anything about her in the mainstream media.  This hits close to home as our family has many friends who graduated from or still go to this high school (where the Nguyen girls went).  Amber and I even have some mutual Facebook friends.  She has been missing since September 16, 2012, so if you have any information that can help, contact the San Jose Police Department at (408) 277-4786 and refer to case number 12-261-0150.

Does Your Asian Mom Vote?

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I vote. My Mom votes. Do you vote? Does your Mom? As you may know, Asian Americans are one of the least likely to register to vote as well as to actually cast a ballot, going against the grain for being supposedly the most educated as well as having the overall highest income. Well, The Asian Pacific American Legal Center (a member of the Asian American Center for Advancing Jutice) is trying to increase voter participation amongst Asian Americans.

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