8 Asians

Although I had seen California State Treasury John Chiang several times during the week at the Democratic National Convention, I hadn’t had a chance to do an interview. On Day 4 at the California Delegates Breakfast, I finally did, though only briefly, to get his thoughts on the Convention as well as his run for Governor of California in 2018.

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Yes, that’s right. I don’t think I’ve had the chance to blog Chiang’s announcement, but back in May or so, Chiang announced that he’s officially running:

“California Treasurer John Chiang has made it official: He’s running for governor in 2018. …

“As your next Governor, I have a blueprint for expanding and renewing the California dream through fixing our crumbling infrastructure, making retirement security our generation’s call to arms, and rebuilding California’s middle class through better jobs and improved educational opportunities,” Chiang said. …

Right now, Democratic Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom is the only other well-known California politician to officially jump into the governor’s race . Newsom has been aggressively raising money and already has $5.4 million cash on hand.

Skelton said that Chiang has $3.2 million left over from his successful 2014 bid for treasurer and can transfer that money to his new campaign account for governor.

Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa also has expressed an interest in running for governor, but the Democrat isn’t expected to make a decision until the summer or fall.

Chiang, a Democrat from Torrance, has been elected to statewide office three times: twice as controller and as state treasurer in 2014.”

I’m thinking that John has a real chance of being elected governor. Newsom I think is overall more well known, but I think a bit too liberal for a lot of Californians and has some personal baggage that some voters might not like, though Newsom did get elected as Lieutenant Governor. John is a practical Democrat that is well liked among Democratic insiders. I think Asian Americans (especially Democrats and Independents), who comprise of 15% of the California electorate, will overwhelming support John.  We’ll see though, there is a lot of time between now and November 2018!

 

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#IFEELALIVE is a national awareness campaign launched on the Love and Discovery blog in support of Suicide Prevention Month in September.

Suicide was the 8th leading cause of death for Asian-Americans, whereas it was the 11th leading cause of death for all racial groups combined.

This video is aimed at educating and helping Asian American Pacific Islanders with mental health issues.

The following people contributed to this PSA:
Megan Lee, Jason Chu, Elizabeth Sung James Kyson, Sean Michael Afable, Raymond Ma, Grace Su, Only Won, Lina So, Larissa Lam, Emily Wu Truong, Kanika Lal.

Statistics cited in the video are derived from data from American Psychological Association and American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

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If you follow or cover San Francisco politics, especially regarding Asian Americans, Chinese Americans or Chinatown, you’ll inevitably here the name Rose Pak. Pak passed away of natural causes at age 68 at home on Sunday, September 18th. Her life, as summarized by the San Francisco Chronicle:

“Calling Ms. Pak, a native of Hunan, China, who moved to San Francisco in 1967, an activist or community advocate doesn’t begin to describe her decades-long role in turning Chinatown and the city’s fast-growing Asian American population into a political power in the city.

Ms. Pak never held an elective office or sat on a city commission, but she helped change the political face of San Francisco, largely by recognizing it was changing. As the city’s Asian American population exploded, she worked to involve her community more directly in city politics.

Born in 1948, Ms. Pak, her mother and sisters fled Communist China to British Hong Kong in the early 1950s. She was educated at Catholic boarding schools there and in Portuguese Macao before coming to California on a scholarship to study communications at the San Francisco College for Women.

After receiving her master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University in New York City, Ms. Pak returned to San Francisco in 1974 to work as a reporter for The San Francisco Chronicle and immerse herself in the city’s Asian community.”

rose_pak

Unfortunately, I don’t think I ever really met or spoken with Ms. Pak face-to-face, though I am sure I’ve been some events where she was present, especially if I was in San Francisco’s Chinatown for an event. And I did blog about Pak back in 2011.

I do remember reading about Pak convincing then interim Mayor of San Francisco Ed Lee to run for permanent Mayor of San Francisco, and that annoyed me a bit since Lee’s appointment was based on the promise that Lee would not run for mayor. I was a David Chiu for Mayor of San Francisco supporter.

May she rest in peace.

Photography courtesy of the San Francisco Chronicle.

 

voices-of-our-vote_cover_finalVoices of Our Vote is a new compliation album featuring “32 politically empowering tracks by an eclectic mix of Asian American musicians.”  Presented by activist group 18MillionRising in partnership with Kollaboration, Traktivist, Tuesday Night Project, and Mishthi, the collection of diverse tunes aims to inspire Asian Americans to vote in the upcoming elections.  The album’s release coincides with the #MyAAPIVote campaign, “encouraging AAPIs using forward thinking digital tactics and culture-shifting online tools to get people out to vote” and the VoterVox program, which connects voters with registration resources and ballot translations.

The album is available for purchase at VoicesofOurVote.org on a name-your-price basis.  Proceeds from album sales will be donated to 18MillionRising.

I’ve given the album four good listens (and one slightly distracted one), and can recommend at least taking it for a spin.  It is quite an “eclectic mix,” especially if your tastes lean toward hip-hop, contemporary folk, and R&B.  Pickings are slim if you’re more of a rocker, but there are a couple of tracks here that may fit your groove. Continue Reading »

8$ is a series which occasionally highlights interesting crowdfunding projects. Every day, the 8Asians team is inundated by many worthy pitches. We are unable to highlight every one that comes our way, or even the ones we might individually support. The projects selected for 8$ are not endorsements by 8Asians. (To be considered for 8$, we highly suggest you not harass the writers or the editors of 8Asians.)

8a-2016-09-25-riceonwhiteWHO: The Rice on White Team

Talun Hsu (director/producer) – Talun is a veteran of independent films. Being a writer, director and producer, Talun knows all the tricks of the trade to make things happen.
Joe Ho & Brent Tonick (writers/producers/cast) – Joe & Brent are just like Matt Damon and Ben Affleck… but more attractive. They are lifelong friends who have been writing and acting together since they were teenagers.

Eddie Mui (associate producer) – Eddie was a working actor in his hometown of Seattle performing in various main stage shows before moving to LA to focus more on television and film.

Fiona Gubelmann (cast) – Fiona is a ferociously talented actress with a long list of credits to her name both in television and film.

Jun Kim (cast) – A multilingual and multi-ethnic former stock broker, Jun Kim was born and raised in Hong Kong.

Charles Kim (cast) – A native Angeleno, Charles Kim did not start acting for paying audiences until he moved to Washington State, where he caught “the acting bug” while attending law school.

Kathy Uyen (cast) – a Vietnamese American actress, producer, and screenwriter who is best known for her leading roles in Vietnamese cinema.

Brian Drolet (cast) – an actor/comedian/writer/producer, Brian also was a cast member of season one of MTV’s smash hit “The Hills” among his extensive list of acting credits.

Cast also includes: Trieu Tran (HBO’s “The Newsroom”, “Tropic Thunder”), Sekou Andrews (“The Sea of Dreams”), Haley Cummings (Adult Film Star), Caroline Macey (episodes of “Grey’s Anatomy”, “Medium” and other shows), John Fukuda (“John Wang’s Nebraska”, “Someone I Used to Know”), Kelli McNeil (episodes of “My Crazy Ex”, “CSI” and other shows), Lynn Chen (“Saving Face”, HBO’s “Silicon Valley”), Karin Anna Cheung (“Better Luck Tomorrow”, “The People I’ve Slept With”), Cathy Shim (Comedy Central’s “Reno 911!”, Fox’s “MADtv”)

Crew includes: Rebecca Hu (line producer) (“Pretty Rosebud”), Chadwick Struck (casting director) (“Outlaws and Angels”, “Mini’s First Time”), Chia-Yu Chen (cinematographer) (Ads for “Coca Cola” and “Hugo Boss”, among others), Jessica Lee (costume designer) (Crackle’s “Sequestered”), Ellen Ho (production coordinator) (“Ktown Cowboys”, “Dilated”), Linda Chi (makeup/hair), Daren Dien (production), Ryan Fung (production)

WHAT: Kickstarter project: Rice on White – Comedy Feature Film

Whether it’s Emma Stone being cast as a quarter-Chinese, quarter-Pacific Islander character or all-American Matt Damon protecting the Great Wall of China, “whitewashing” has been a hot topic lately. We, the filmmakers of Rice on White, are huge movie fans (and big fans of Stone and Damon btw) but we also would like to see a world where Asian-Americans are fairly represented in television and cinema.

Social media outrage and online petitions can be helpful – we’ve participated in our share of both – but we thought it more constructive to be the change we want to see. Rice on White is the result. This is a hilarious mainstream romantic comedy / guy comedy in the same vein as films such as “The 40-Year-Old Virgin”, “Knocked Up” and “American Pie” with something you don’t see every day: Asians leading the way instead of being cast as the sidekicks.

WHEN: Deadline to contribute is Thursday, September 29, 2016 (12:00 AM PDT).

WHY:

There aren’t many mainstream movies with Asian Americans in lead roles or even behind the camera. We hope to change that but in order to do so we need opportunities to convince Hollywood studios that Asian American films can be successful. At the end of the day though, this is a movie, not a political statement. We think we have a funny and entertaining movie starring Asian-Americans that could be a crossover hit popular with audiences from all backgrounds.

Dr. Ken, Season 2, Episode 1: “Allison’s Career Move”
Original airdate September 23, 2016.

dr_ken_s02e01-29What seems to be the problem?

  1. Allison is offered a position at Welltopia, something that appeals to neither her nor Ken, although’s Allison’s current practice is causing her and her family all kinds of stress.
  2. Molly’s SAT scores are lower than she expected, so she recruits Dave to help her hide them from her parents until she can take it again.
  3. Clark admits to Damona that although he has been with his boyfriend Connor for months, he has no idea what Connor does for a living.

Vitals.

Big changes in season 2:

  • Dr. Julie (Kate Simses) appears to be out, as Ken explains to a patient.  She’s accepted a pediatric fellowship, and her name is not in the show’s opening credits.
  • Allison brings her talents to Welltopia.
  • Ken’s father D.K. (Dana Lee) moves in with the family while his wife is away in Korea, and Lee’s name appears in the opening credits.

I’m disappointed, but that Welltopia staff, as much as I like it, felt crowded last season, and I complained multiple times that there wasn’t enough story to go around for everyone.  If I were cynical, I’d say of course they got rid of Julie because they weren’t going to lose the black woman or the gay man, but personality-wise, she is the easiest character to lift out, especially with another woman doctor joining the staff.

Allison’s moving to Welltopia also makes it easier to write stories that don’t feel so compartmentalized.  I complained last season that we weren’t getting enough of Allison the doctor, and this adjustment will fix that immediately.  Next week’s episode is titled “Ken and Allison Share a Patient,” so already we’re seeing some good ideas in this area.

I’m not as thrilled about D.K. moving in, a decision that may have something to do with Allison going to Welltopia.  It creates a new dynamic at home for Molly and Dave, but they did that a couple of times last season, and I wasn’t fond of the story ideas, as when D.K. challenges Dave to get into shape.

dr_ken_s02e01-17I have an appointment at 8:30.

I welcome Ken Park and his family back for their second season.  Dr. Ken‘s inaugural season was all over the place, but a strong cast and likeable characters, not to mention the R word for an Asian family in network prime time, had me rooting hard on its behalf for another shot.  The show had problems, but they were fixable problems, mostly with the writing.  Episodes went too easily to zaniness and obvious jokes, but when the writers allowed the comedy to emerge from truthful, believable moments, it had a cast who could stick the landing.

In this episode, Ken is a much better anchor than he was through most of last season.  That SAT story with Molly is believable as heck, and when Ken tells his daughter that he’s been there, that’s believable too, and Ken handles it with a gentle aplomb that’s half unexpected.  Molly’s worry is understandable, but so is Ken’s compassion, and their scene together in the kitchen is a nice reminder that Molly’s third-generation Asian American experience is different from Ken’s second-generation experience, the kind of thing Dr. Ken handles deftly when it takes the opportunity.  Krista Marie Yu’s delivery of the line, “Everything’s always come so easy for me.  What if it doesn’t anymore?” is perfect, a small heartbreaking moment a lot of Mollys can relate to.  I was so intimidated by the SAT, despite years of practicing for it, that I waited until March of my senior year to take it, long past the application deadlines for all the schools on my bedroom’s College Wall.

dr_ken_s02e01-19Cleared for physical activity.

Parts of this episode feel like that first day of all your college classes, where you get a syllabus and an explanation of the course, but no meaningful content.  Yet other parts go right to some nice relationship stuff, the stuff that Dr. Ken does well when it doesn’t take any shortcuts.  I’m encouraged by believable plot elements that make the show’s characteristic silliness (Pat’s coffee grinder; Allison’s “Never apologize for candy on a sandwich”) feel more like an accessory, rather than the primary costume.  Because there’s a lot here to be encouraged by, I’m giving it a half-point bump: four tongue-depressors out of five.

 

I caught this Nature’s Bounty television commercial for fish oil while watching I think CNN on a Saturday morning.

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I like how this 0:15 second commercial shows the woman’s future self accelerated over time an rewinds back. My mother has taken fish oil in the past, but I’ve always wondered (like vitamins), how much of  difference it can make to take such supplements. A quick reading on WebMD:

“Fish oil is FDA approved to lower triglycerides levels, but it is also used for many other conditions. It is most often used for conditions related to the heart and blood system. Some people use fish oil to lower blood pressure, triglycerides and cholesterol levels. Fish oil has also been used for preventing heart disease or stroke, as well as forclogged arteries, chest pain, irregular heartbeat, bypass surgery, heart failure, rapid heartbeat, preventing blood clots, and high blood pressure after a heart transplant.”

Besides the above stated benefits, WebMD goes on to list other health benefits of fish oil.

While looking for this commercial online, I also did come across the 0:30 second version of the ad, which has kind of a funny, but non sequitur moment, where the future older woman tells her younger self –

“Don’t marry Dan,” who turns out to be a creepy white guy. I wonder if this version of the ad airs!

fortunes

Peter Ho Davies’ latest novel The Fortunes traverses 150 years of Chinese American history through the stories of four characters. Beginning with Ah Ling, biracial servant to railroad baron Charles Crocker in the late nineteenth century, the book moves on to Anna May Wong in the 1930s, then to a friend of Vincent Chin who was murdered in Detroit in 1982, and lastly to a biracial father about to adopt a daughter from China. These four Chinese Americans’ stories are captured in novella-like sections, a broad interpretation of a multi-generational story. Davies neither glamorizes nor castigates any of these historical moments or figures, but rather seeks to complicate his characters. In the process he exposes interracial tensions, commenting on how they fit into society at large, but also personal identity crises and a robust look at what it means to be Chinese American and part (or apart) of a Chinese community.

Continue Reading »

Pandia_Health

I’ve blogged about my friend Dr. Sophia Yen in the past. She’s probably the most politically active person I know (and her brother served in Iraq and her mother Sandy Yen was in the Taiwan legislature.)

But by day, she’s not only a doctor but also recently launched her start-up, Pandia Health – “The easiest way to get birth control.” I caught up with her recently to learn more about her startup and her motivations.

John: Today we’re talking with Dr. Sophia Yen, a physician with a passion for making women’s lives better with improved access to birth control and prescription acne medications via her startup PandiaHealth.com

Dr. Yen: Thank you for having me on 8Asians.com! I love sharing my birth control knowledge with people to help prevent unplanned pregnancies.

As Asian Americans, I think many of us have gone under the “don’t ask, don’t tell” regimen about our birth control with our parents. I’m here and happy to answer anyone’s questions about birth control, sexually-transmitted infections, and acne. I hope our generation can be more open with our children.

Why did you start PandiaHealth.com?

Continue Reading »

APIAVote, which I’ve blogged about in the past, has just released online their new Public Service Announcement:

#VoiceYourVote: This year, be sure to uplift #AAPIVoices and make your voice heard by registering to vote and voting in the elections.”

APIAVote_PSA_George_Takei_and_John_Cho

starring George Takei and John Cho, both who have played Hikaru Sulu in Star Trek. I’ve had the great pleasure and honor to meet Takei. Actress Constance Wu and others also chime in as well.

Personally, I have voted in every election I recall since graduating from college in the 1990s. I did also vote in college, though it was a bigger challenge since I did study in a different state than where I was registered to vote. Now I am a permanent absentee ballot voter.

I’ve often blogged that it bothers me to no end that eligible Asian Americans are the least to register to vote (50.7%) compared to any demographic group, at least in California.

8a-2016-09-akigoestobollywoodThe term “Asian American” talks about the interaction of two sets of ideas, customs, and traditions, Asian and American.   To me, one of the most fascinating instances of this are when two ordinarily distinct notions of Asian and American get mashed up together into something unique, like spam musubi or Korean Taco trucks.  Food isn’t the only area where happens – KQED published this story about how an Indian American musician blends Chicago style Blues with Bollywood.  Aki Kumar, who came to Silicon Valley to make his fortune as a software engineer, developed a love for the Blues, and began applying that style to the classic Bollywood songs of his youth.

Continue Reading »

As Congresswoman Judy Chu had mentioned on Day 1 at the AAPI Caucus, the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) would be represented and speaking on the Convention stage at the convention, which Chu is the chairwoman. This is the first time CAPAC was ever represented on stage at a Democratic Convention (I don’t think there are any Republican members of the House or Senate that are Asian American). The above video is the official video taken and hosted on the Democratic National Convention YouTube page.

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I definitely wanted to be at the Wells Fargo Center to witness this historic occasion and traded my daily press pass for a temporary press pass that allowed me to go into the convention floor for an hour to catch this historic moment.

The introductory video highlighted the history of Asian Americans in the U.S., including dark periods such as the era of the Chinese Exclusion Acts as well as the internment of Japanese during World War II and the death of Vincent Chin to today, where more and more Asian Americans are represented in Congress. Then a good number of Congressmen, Congresswomen and Senator Hirono made some brief comments, including why they supported Hillary Clinton for President.

Below is the video and photos I took from the convention floor in a press area:

  • 0:00:00 – 0:02:15 – History video on Asian Pacific Americans
  • 0:02:22 – 0:07:50 – Congresswoman Judy Chu (D-California, 32nd District)
  • 0:07:50 – 0:08:35 – Senator Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii)
  • 0:08:35 – 0:09:15 – Congressowman Madeleine Bordallo (D-Guam)
  • 0:09:15 – 0:09:50  – Congressman Mark Takano (D-California’s, 41st District)
  • 0:09:50 – 0:10:20  – Congressman Ami Bera (D-California, 7th)
  • 0:10:20 – 0:10:50 – Congressman Bobby Scott (D- Virginia, 3rd District)
  • 0:10:50 – 0:11:25 – Congressman Ted Lieu (D- California, 33rd District)
  • 0:11:25 – 0:12:00 – Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (D- Northern Mariana Islands)
  • 0:12:00 – 0:14:00 – Congresswoman Grace Meng (D-California, 6th District)

Additional photos:

DNC 2016 – Day 3 – 8Asians: Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus