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Visiting Orange County's Little Seoul -- Happy Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month

Posted by Eric Brightwell, May 19, 2014 07:53pm | Post a Comment
INTRODUCTION TO LITTLE SEOUL 

Welcome sign at Brookhurst
Welcome sign at Brookhurst

Drive down Garden Grove Boulevard with your windows up (paying proper attention to the road in front of you) and you might not notice that you're passing through Little Seoul. There are no banners, memorials, murals, monuments or that many fluttering South Korean flags. Pass through on a bus and maybe you'll notice the Hangul signs and blue tile roofs. The best way to experience Little Seoul, despite some drawbacks, is by walking in it – although your hair might pick up the smell like bulgogi by the end of your ramble. The other day I headed over there to explore it, accompanied by Una Zipagan and host of the excellent Notebook on Cities and Culture podcast, Colin Marshall

Another blue tile community
Another blue tile community

*****


Visiting Little Saigon -- Happy Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month

Posted by Eric Brightwell, May 13, 2014 04:51pm | Post a Comment

INTRO TO LITTLE SAIGON

Little Saigon

Southern California is home to several ethnic enclaves and since the region's largest and fastest growing racial minority are Asian, perhaps it's not surprising that most of the recognized neighborhoods are specific to various Asian populations. In Los Angeles County there's Cambodia Town, Chinatown, Historic Filipinotown, Koreatown, Little Bangladesh, Little India, Little Osaka, Little Tokyo, and Thai Town. Orange County is home to Little Arabia (Arabs being geographically Asian if not -- by most people's reckoning -- racially so), Little Seoul, and Little Saigon -- the latter of which is little in name only.

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The Filipino New School Freestyle Revival

Posted by Eric Brightwell, May 5, 2014 06:06pm | Post a Comment

Freestyle is a type of dance-pop music that evolved from Hi-NRG, Electro, and Hip-Hop in the early 1980s — primarily in New York City and specifically the South Bronx. Due to the ethnic and musicological background of some of its producers, performers and many of its fans, Freestyle was originally often referred to as Latin Hip-Hop. After enjoying a period of crossover popularity in the second half of the 1980s, Freestyle stopped being a major musical force in mainstream but was kept alive by a cult largely comprised surprisingly perhaps, largely of Filipinos.


Freestyle CD covers
Freestyle CD covers from the Geocities Era

In the early 1980s listeners could still discern the unique cultural contributions that made pre-corporate Hip-Hop a complex Afro-Caribbean-Hellenic-Italo-Teutonic gumbo. The syncopated rhythms of Electro-Funk owed their popularity to Nuyoricans’ central importance in the emerging subculture. Electro-Funk branched into something distinct (what came to be known as Freestyle) in 1982 and ’83, with the release of songs like Planet Patrol’s “Pay At Your Own Risk,” C-Bank’s “Get Wet,” and Shannon’s “Let the Music Play” and the production efforts of figures like John Robie & Arthur Baker, The Latin Rascals, and Mark Liggett & Chris Barbosa.
 

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Sriracha 101: Dispelling myths and misinformation about Sriracha

Posted by Eric Brightwell, June 5, 2013 08:40pm | Post a Comment

Huy Fong sriracha (source: NPR)


As much as I try to resist the urge to be a know-it-all (and recognize the fact that I don’t, in fact, even know that much – especially about the very things most worth knowing), occasionally I have to get all Bobby Fletcher (the famous checkersmaster) and drop some science of the sort that's right under your nose. It's 2013 and everyone loves sriracha now, dear but few have their facts straight.



THE RISE IN VIETNAMESE FOOD'S PROFILE


The Hanoi Cooking Center (image source: Global Travel Mate)

In the last decade or so, masses of semi-adventurous, non-Vietnamese Angelenos discovered Vietnamese cuisine. While many non-Vietnamese Asian-Americans had long known about Vietnamese food (and the rooster sauce that is ubiquitous at Southern California Vietnamese restaurants), Vietnamese food's profile skyrocketed when they it when white folks declared it the new Thai.

Happy Birthday Wah Ming Chang -- Happy Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

Posted by Eric Brightwell, May 21, 2013 03:13pm | Post a Comment
Wah Chang

Wah Chang
was a Chinese-American artist and prop designer. Today he’s most recognized for his iconic designs on the television series Star Trek. He was born on this day in 1917 and with that in mind, it being Asian-Pacific Heritage Month, me planning on going to see the Star Trek Into Darkness tonight, and The Wrath of Khan on in the background, now seems like a good time to reflect on his genius.


EARLY LIFE

Wah Ming Chang (鄭華明) was born 2 August, Wah Chang as a child1917 in Honolulu, when Hawai’i was still a territory. His father, Dai Song Chang, owned an art store and framing gallery. The Chang family moved to San Francisco in 1919 and the parents opened Ho Ho Tea Room on 315 Sutter Street, which quickly became a popular hangout for artists and bohemians. Wah’s mother, Fai Sue, was an artist and graduate of the California School of Arts and Crafts. As a young child, Wah also displayed a talent for art and at seven, he began a tutelage under artist Blanding Sloan. Wah had his first solo gallery show when he was just nine years old. His mother passed away when he was eleven and his father moved to Europe, leaving the child with Sloan and his wife, Mildred Taylor. Taylor, was a feminist writer, organizer and lecturer who in the 1920s displayed a strikingly non-stereotypical interest in East Asian cultures. Taylor introduced Wah to puppet-making, a skill which he would employ when he eventually began working in film.

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