Archive for the ‘Arts & Culture’ Category

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Thanks Mary for sharing this “open letter” by Phonte. It captures a lot of what I’ve been trying to articulate about Michael Jackson and my frustration with the U.S. media’s portrayal of his life and work. R.I.P Michael Jackson (1958 – 2009)

My Hero Ain’t Molest Them Bitch Ass Kids: A Kaing’s Tribute

I haven’t been compelled to blog in a long time.

In an era where everybody is twittering and text-messaging their lives away, a well-thought out essay that extends past 140 characters is quickly becoming a thing of the past.

But when our universe lost its brightest star on June 25, 2009, I felt a deep, overwhelming sadness that I haven’t experienced in many years and I felt moved to say….something.

My hero, Michael Joseph Jackson, is dead.

Honestly I’m still trying to process it, almost like the loss of a much-loved family member. I mean, hell, to many of us Michael WAS family. Much like Nike, or Coca-Cola, or McDonalds, Michael Jackson wasn’t so much a person as he was a living, breathing, American institution; a ubiquitous force that has seemingly existed forever and one that we couldn’t imagine a world without. Seeing Michael onstage was less like watching a musician perform and more akin to witnessing a magician at work.

But contrary to his otherworldly stage presence and magical aura, the man we called The King of Pop proved to be a mere mortal. And now my hero, Michael Joseph Jackson, is dead.

What isn’t dead, unfortunately, is the cloud of false accusations, unsubstantiated rumors, myths, slander, and outright lies that surround his life and his legacy. The greatest myth regarding Michael Jackson is that he was a pedophile who preyed on young children. Continue Reading »

We featured Kian Goh at the Unspoken Borders Conference this year, during the Talk20 session.   Having Goh be part of the conference was fantastic, particularly because of her direct engagement with the queer community on design issues.  One of her projects is featured in our hot-off-the-press publication.  She was also recently interviewed by the American Institute of Architects – be sure to listen to the mp3 of the interview.  She articulates the importance of promoting social justice through design.  Though she specifically speaks to an architectural audience, her words resonate well with other design fields.

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Last Saturday I went to check out the Mid-Autumn Festival organized by Asian Americans United and the Philadelphia Folklore Project. The first time I had heard about this event was several years ago through my involvment with the Detroit Asian Youth Project and our efforts to engage youth with cultural arts and activism. There’s a really dope documentary that tells the story behind the festival that captures the goals to use folk arts to build intergenerational relationships, pass down cultural traditions and build a stronger sense of community.

Walking through Chinatown, there was a wonderful vibe from the festival and the hundreds of young people and families walking around. Continue Reading »

I have a small confession; I like to watch CBS Sunday Morning. If you have ever seen this news show, you’ll know that it is catered to a much older (than me) audience, mostly because it doesn’t use a lot of flashly graphics, and I don’t know of very many mid-twenty year olds that wake up before 9 am on Sunday to watch the news. But I’ll save why I like CBS Sunday Morning for a separate post. Anyway, I learned about Alice Smith from CBS Sunday Morning (pretty lame, I’m sure), and I’ve been hooked ever since I listened to her entire album. She came to NYC to perform at Joe’s Pub. Here’s a video clip I took from my digital camera. Hopefully you’ll be able to see what a talented singer she is from the short clip. And yes, that’s Me’Shell NdegéOcello playing bass in the back!

The writing is punchy and imaginative, and I imagine that if read aloud, the short chapters would sound like spoken word. I’m really digging how the author captures the experience of waiting for a train:

This is the fabled journey underground, folks, and it’s going to get a whole lot worse before it gets better. On the opposite track it’s a field of greener grass, you gotta beat trains off with a stick…The postures on the platform sag of stiffen appropriately. With a dial controlling the amount of static. What are their rooms like, the men at the microphones…Look down the tunnel one more time and your behavior will describe a psychiatric disorder. It’s infectious. They take turns looking down into darkness and the platform is a clock: the more people standing dumb, the more time has passed since the last train. The people fall from above into hourglass dunes. Collect like seconds.

Before going to see the newly opened MOCAD, my friend and I spontaneously decided to enter and explore the Michigan Central Depot. It was surprisingly easy to get in from the tunnels. We were walking in darkness for a minute, before suddenly stepping into the expansive main lobby/waiting area (represented in the photo above courtesy of Forgotten Detroit). A snow storm had come through the city two days ago, so mounds of snow sculpted by the wind were all over the floor and staircases. We only had time to look around the third (some kind of vault/archival room) and fifth (hotel rooms or offices) floors. I still can’t really believe I was inside the building — had there been more time and had I dressed warmer, I could have spent much longer inside, just sitting, soaking and reflecting.

I hope the fate of this building, like other wonderful buildings in Detroit, will not go down the path of demolition. Afterwards, my friend and I had an interesting conversation about sustainability and urban cities. Inside the rooms, we had found many light fixtures and other materials wasted and deteriorating, as though people just left everything behind and didn’t think look back. At the same time, the architecture and building materials used to construct the station seem solid and strong enough to withstand time itself. Aside from the aesthetics, there doesn’t appear to be much structural damage. I don’t think the box-like buildings we find our Wal-marts and Targets today can measure up to the Michigan Central Depot. With the right amount investment, imagine the possibilities of how we can reuse this building.

I just found out about this documentary film called Yellow Brotherhood (released in 2004), a group of Asian American former gang members who create a “self-help” group to help their community in the 1960s. I had met the filmmaker a few years ago through a mutual friend in LA. We were chatting at a party, and I remember hearing him talk about his interests in film and activism, and passion to document the histories of the Japanese American and Asian/Pacific Islander American communities, particularly from the our generation’s perspective (mid-20’s). It’s great to see the actualization of one of his projects.

While I was looking through the YB website, I also learned about the Garden Grove 5 incident, which involved a Japanese American who was arrested for protesting a Minutemen raly.

Below is some text from Blacklava, which has a synopsis of the YB film. Continue Reading »

My green thumb

Okay, so I didn’t take this photo, but I do love growing vegetables and urban gardening! This photo is part of a fantastic photography collection of produce from NYC’s Grand Army Plaza weekly greenmarket.

Yes! Magazine featured some of these photos in a recent article on how greenmarkets and other farmers markets can promote fresh local produce, healthy food and support local economies.

Take a look at the rest of Ranjit Bhatnagar’s work on his Flickr site.