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Fatal Pulse

Posted by phil blankenship, May 2, 2008 09:20am | Post a Comment
 







Celebrity Video 4002

May Is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

Posted by Eric Brightwell, April 28, 2008 04:19pm | Post a Comment
ASIAN PACIFIC AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH

Even in a multicultural, polyglot city like Los Angeles (which has the largest population of Asian-Americans (1.4 million) in the country and where the percentage of the population which is Asian-American is roughly twice that which is black) most discussions of race appear continue to be framed in the outmoded, bipolar terms of  black and white.  For example, whereas a lot of people and many organizations honor Black History Month, Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is by comparison almost completely unrecognized except by some Asian-American organization and individuals.

The centuries-long struggle and strife of blacks in America is well-documented and worth honoring -- many have suggested that Black Americans invented the Civil Rights Movement (some Native Americans might take issue with that). Asians, like other non-whites, have also been subjected to legal segregation, racist violence, widespread discrimination and harassment. So why is it that the Asian-American experience is so... obscure? I hadn't even heard of its existence until I was hipped to it by reknowned Asian-American rights activist, Ngoc-thu Thi Nguyen.


CONTINUED PREJUDICE AGAINST ASIAN-AMERICANS

According to polls, 23% of Americans are admittedly "uncomfortable" voting for an Asian-American to be President of the United States. This is in contrast to 15% compared with an African-American candidate and 14% compared with a (presumably non-Asian) female candidate. Just as many Americans used to fear that Catholics ultimate allegiance was to the pope, a lot of Asians are suspected and viewed of holding allegiances the Asian countries of their ancestors, a view which fuels the "perpetual foreigner" stereotype.


PERPETUAL FOREIGNERS

Asian-Americans are typically descended from more recent immigrants than the white or black population. Last year, coming up with movies to showcase for APA Heritage Month resulted in the suggestion of Chinese Kung Fu movies the distinction between Asians in Asia and Asians in America remains a lot harder for non-Asians than distinguishing African-Americans from Africans or white people from Europeans partly because America loves imported Asian movies and Korean dramas but Hollywood continues to be incredibly uncomfortable with Asian-American leads or ensembles. To date there've only been a handful of Asian-American television series. Even more troubling to me is the fact that many Asian-Americans born in America speak of "American food" and "Americans" as something separate and exclusive of themselves.


BIPOLAR DISCUSSIONS OF RACE 

America's understanding and discussion of racial issues has almost always been overwhelmingly and frustratingly bipolar.  Look at the focus of most conversations about the current Democratic Party elections despite the fact that Asian-Americans are second only to Jews in their per capita political donations. This simple and distorted view exists despite the fact that other groups, such as Asians and Native Americans, have always been central to our country's history. The conversation has always been and remains, still, "black and white."


THE MODEL MINORITY

Asians are often paternalistically referred to as the "model minority" -- a special minority position that seems to involve the allowance of systematic marginalization. It's like saying "here's a gold star for not rocking the boat. We wish all minorities were so well-behaved." It suggests that (even though Asian immigration is growing at the highest percentage of any racial group) the fact that Asian-Americans are the least likely racial group to report crimes against themselves is to be commended. And even though rare modern instances of blackface provoke outrage, yellowface (whether literal or metaphorically practiced by Asian-American actors reduced to playing into stereotypes) is still not a big deal.


NON-MODEL MINORITY ASIANS

I have to assume that the term "model minority" doesn't  apply to all Asian-Americans, right? As a whole, Southeast Asian people including Vietnamese, Cambodians, Laotians, Filipinos and Hmong in the United States are, socio-economically speaking, much more aligned with Native Americans, Blacks, and Latinos. Anecdotally speaking, they seem less likely to be fetishized by both pop culture (appearing in advertisments, films and TV less often than East Asians) and non-Asian exoticists struck with so-called "Yellow Fever." And what of South Asians? For whatever reason, if one speaks of Asian-Americans of South Asian ancestral origin as being Asian-Americans (which they, of course, are), many non-Asians will react with confusion or even attempt to correct you. Anyway, enough of my musings on race... here's a brief history of Asian-American Immigration to the Americas.


*****

TIMELINE OF ASIANS IN THE AMERICAS




CIRCA 15000 BCE

A group of proto-Asian hunters walks from Northern Asia to the Americas on a land bridge.


   
Inupiaq dancer                    Yupik girl                      Inuit girls                   Alutiiq dancer                  Aleut boy

CIRCA 5000 BCE

The last great wave of prehistoric migration from northern Asia to the Americas. These settlers go on to develop into the Inupiaq, Yupik, Inuit, Alutiiq, and Aleut peoples (among others).


   

Vietnamese New Wave - Part I - German Euro-disco

Posted by Eric Brightwell, January 8, 2008 10:14pm | Post a Comment
Vietnamese New Wave

Are any of my readers out there Vietnamese? I was turned on to this amazing genre by "the Jewel of La Puente," the one and only (OK, one of thousands but still one of a kind) Ngoc Nuyen. I have asked the experts here at Amoeba Hollywood about "Vietnamese New Wave" (also referred to as Asian New Wave at times) groups and no one seems even remotely familiar with any of them, with the exception of Chris Matthews, to whom "Modern Talking" sounds familiar ...

First of all, when people talk about Vietnamese New Wave, they’re not talking about Vietnamese artists (although there is Thu Thuy, Lynda Trang Dai and supposedly a tieng viet cover of a Night Society song), but rather a movement that includes mostly German Euro-disco, Italo-disco and English synthpop artists who acquired, through means that no one seems to understand (although it definitely involves mixtapes) massive popularity amongst Vietnamese in Cali, Texas and Canada (and maybe elsewhere).

And whilst there’ve been at least four or five documentarians who’ve explored the still supposedly strange popularity of Morrissey amongst Mexicans and Mexican-Americans, to my knowledge no one has yet delved into the mysterious “Vietnamese New Wave” movement in which (in addition to OMD, Pet Shop Boys and Gazebo's "I Like Chopin") four German performers, with no radio play, no MTV exposure, no Amazon recommendations, no local performances came, against all odds, to achieve stardom in the Vietnamese immigrant population.

To start with, the term “new wave” as used in music means many different things to different people. History records that Sire records head Seymour Stein was the first to borrow the term from the 1950s and 60s film movements from Europe to describe the bands that played at CBGB like Blondie and the Talking Heads. Before long it seemingly became applied to any band formed after 1976 and was applied to such musically dissimilar artists as Spandau Ballet, Elvis Costello, Tom Petty, the Thompson Twins and definitely anyone with asymmetrical hair or '80s fashions regardless of their sound. By the late '80s, I don't remember anyone really using it anymore. "Alternative" had pretty much replaced it as the term for anything underground or bizarre (at least in Columbia, Missouri, where I was still living.) Anyway, in the context of Vietnamese New Wave, four performers loom large that are pretty much completely unknown by every non-Vietnamese I’ve talked to (except DJ Lance Rock, pictured below, with Vietnamese New Wave expert Ngoc-Thu Nguyen and some people who've never even heard of Modern Talking, including Amoeba blogger Chaz Reece).


Hi-NRG” was a term coined by the UK magazine Record Mirror which had a Hi-NRG chart and was used to describe songs with a staccato sequenced synthesizer as heard in Hazell Dean’s “Searching (I Got To Find a Man)” and Evelyn Thomas’s “High Energy.” This music, filtered through songs like Dead Or Alive’s “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)” became known as Eurobeat to some, although I had never heard anyone arguing about the distinctions of these sounds until the age of the chatroom, many years later. There's arguements about what’s what and even Freestyle was frequently marketed as Hi-NRG in the US (as well as Latin Hip-Hop and who knows what else). Canadian band Lime was often considered Italo-disco. I’m not an expert but there is a common sound to the stars of Vietnamese New Wave, as I’m sure you’ll hear if you take the time to watch these awesome videos.

In my research I have found that they have a “New Wave Night” at the Shark Club in Costa Mesa on the first Friday of every month (in the Red Room) and it's specifically Vietnamese New Wave, so I’m going to have to check it out for further research and get back to you.


Bad Boys Blue

Bad Boys Blue was formed in Cologne, Germany in 1984 by producer Tony Hendrik and his lyricist wife Karin van Harren. The group itself was comprised of a Brit, an American and a Jamaican. They became most popular in Russia, South Africa and Ukraine.






C.C. Catch

C.C. Catch, born Caroline Catharina Müller in Oss, Netherlands, moved to Germany in the 1970s and eventually teamed up with writer Dieter Bohlen in 1985, who produced all of her hits (well, hits in Belgium, Germany, Switzerland and Yugoslavia) until they fell out in 1989.




Modern Talking

Modern Talking was formed in Berlin by Dieter Bohlen and Thomas Anders in 1984. They split in 1987 after achieving considerable popularity in Argentina, Austria, Finland, Iran, Scandinavia, South Africa and Switzerland. In the UK they were marketed toward fans of gay duos like Erasure, the Pet Shop Boys and trios Bronski Beat and Culture Club, despite their heterosexuality. In their videos and live performances they usually consciously appeared with a measured distance between them, fearing that their assumed gay image was holding them back. In 1985, Thomas Anders began wearing a necklace which spelled out his girlfriend’s name in gold letters.







Sandra

Sandra Cretu (born Sandra Ann Lauer in Saarbrücken, Germany) was in the disco group Arabesque and before she began performing solo as Sandra in 1984. After teaming up with her then boyfriend Michael Cretu, she became immensely popular in Germany, Israel, Lebanon and Switzerland. In America she is still mostly known, if known at all, as the female voice in “Sadeness,” the hit single of her by-then-husband’s group Enigma. She’s the one whispering “Sade, dit moi. Sade donne moi.”

 


Go here for Part II of Vietnamese New Wave!

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California Fool's Gold -- Exploring Alhambra, the Gateway to the San Gabriel Valley

Posted by Eric Brightwell, November 5, 2007 05:00pm | Post a Comment

I had to go to
Alhambra to see a man about a horse at the bidding of the original San Gabriel Valley Girl, the always radiant Ngoc Nguyen. To vote for another Los Angeles neighborhood, vote here. To vote for a Los Angeles County Community, vote here. To vote for more Orange County communites, click here


Pendersleigh & SonsOfficial Map of the San Gabriel Valley


ALHAMBRA'S LOCATION

Alhambra is on the western edge of the San Gabriel Valley between posh
San Marino, trendy South Pasadena, old San Gabriel, blue collar Rosemead, and the most Chinese city in the US, Monterey Park.


Pendersleigh & Sons' Official Map of Alhambra

The center of Alhambra is the intersection of Garfield and Main, which has functioned as the hub of town at least since 1895.


                          Garfield and Main, 1890                            Garfield and Main, 2007 improved with an Applebees


My favorite historical site, however, isn't really too historical. There's a great shopping center, New Valley Shopping Center, built in 1964. Its main anchor is replaced the 168 Market -- a subsidiary of Ranch 99 Market. It's one of those many, amazing LA simulacra that make what would normally be a boring stripp mall feel like a visit to Disneyland. This shopping center is, much more successfully than the Cerritos Auto Mile, going for a New Orleans French Quarter vibe with a gazebo, faux wrought-iron street lamps and balconies, and a cupola with a liberty bell. And in this beautiful setting, things get pretty third world, just in the Big Easy. 


New Valley Shopping Center


ALHAMBRA DEMOGRAPHICS

By the 1950s, Garfield and Main was the hippest place in the San Gabriel Valley and was predominantly populated mostly by Italian-Americans. The following decade saw an influx of Latinos from surrounding areas and Anglos moving to other suburbs. In the late 1960s Alhambra was a hotbed of anti-Vietnam War protests and Brown Beret activity. By the mid 1970s tensions rose between the predominantly Anglo "surfers" and cholos. Many
Taiwanese began to move to the neighborhood, followed by Chinese from the mainland, Vietnamese, Cambodians and other Asians
. Today the population is roughly 47% Asian (mostly Chinese and Vietnamese), 36% Latino (Mostly Mexicans of any race), and 14% white.


ALHAMBRA EATS

The San Gabriel Valley is widely recognized for having the best collection of restaurants in Los Angeles County. Being the gateway to the SGV, entering Alhambra on bike I was always hit with a blast of delicious fragrances emanating from kitchens and restaurants. Even though they make up a very small percentage of Los Angeles's Asian-American population, Los Angeles being the great city of the
Pacific Rim it should be no surprise that the highest population of Indonesians is in Los Angeles County. The highest concentration within Los Angeles County is in Alhambra. I mention this first because Indonesian cuisine is one of the world's greatest and Alhambra boasts a few places to get it. Borneo Kalimantan CuisineIndo Kitchen, and Wong Java House. One can also get Indonesian and/or Indonesian-inspired dishes at Garden Café, Savoy Kitchen, and maybe Noodle World. That being said, there's no place in Alhambra that I've eaten more than Yazmin Malaysian Restaurant -- representing the cuisine of Indonesia's neighbor to the north -- Malaysia, of course. I'm also a fan of Banh Mi Che Cali, the Alhambra Lee’s Sandwiches (don’t hate!), Thai Purple, and at least the fried zucchini at Rick’s

In addition to the aforementioned cuisines and restaurants, Alhambra boasts a number of American, Cajun, Chinese, Dim Sum, Hawaiian, Hu, Indian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mexican, Taiwanese, Thai, Vietnamese restaurants including the following:

Wolf Lake

Posted by phil blankenship, November 1, 2007 12:32am | Post a Comment
 







Prism Entertainment 1302
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