Write us!


What would you like to see on The Blaaag? Tell us at theblaaag@gmail.com.

China!

Now that finals are over and the holidays are trickling down, David and I will be heading back to the great, scary mainland of our ancestors for New Year's and more. I'm forty minutes shy of departure, my bags are packed, and I'm fully equipped with two sleeping pills (fourteen hour trips are brutal), a copy of Beijing Time (an anthropological study of the city), a neck pillow (Mom threw one in the luggage), a Moleskine journal (which I started using in '05 and still haven't filled up), and a tape recorder (because you never know when you'll need evidence after some creep harasses you, or after you get stranded on an island with smoke monsters that make sounds like taxicabs printing receipts).

The sad thing is that David and I are hitting the exact same cities (Shanghai, Beijing, Hainan), but our dads have created completely different itineraries for us. Guess that your twenties don't really mean full independence. Anyway, maybe we'll live blog you or something. Maybe. Maybe we'll just be posting about how much China sucks and we miss NYC, because that's where we're from, and believe it or not, people can tell that we are Westerners and will harass us for it.

Fa ra ra ra ra, ra ra ra ra.

Milk


More of my random movie updates. I watched Milk today and it had a totally Blaaag-worthy character: Michael Wong, the only Asian American gay activist that was on the campaign team for Harvey Milk. My favorite part of it was when a distressed Milk jokingly said to Wong, "Don't you have some laundry to do?" and Wong dryly replied, "Don't you have a hairdresser to visit?"

Sadly, I couldn't find any pictures of Kelvin Yu, the actor who played Wong, on IMDB or Google Images (big surprise). But seriously, if you want to see him, just go watch the movie. It would do Dennis Chin or any of our gay Asian American activist friends proud.

Happy Holidays


Here's a happy, drunken well wish from us to you. We're all finally done and have no qualms with having our brains melt over the break. Hopefully you will be like us and not go watch the "Chinese Meets West Extravaganza".

Last night I finally went to see the super hyped movie Slumdog Millionaire. If you know me, then you know that I'm part blogger, part half-assed academic, and part film/concert geek. Be warned, I wrote this with little intention of bringing up any Asian American connections, but make of it what you will.

The first thing that turned me onto this movie was the heaps of praise that Videogum editor Lindsay Robertson showered onto it:

gabe: let your guard down
gabe: for once
lindsay: I did, when I saw Slumdog Millionaire!
lindsay: my guard was down for like, an hour
I couldn't believe it when I read this. Who, in their mid twenties to thirties, in the 21st Century, lets their guard down when watching any movie, especially one done by the guy who made the crazy zombie flick 28 Days Later? New Yorkers are dry and caustic, and like it or not, the qualities are contagious.

But then again, there is definitely something about Danny Boyle knowing how to tap into people's feelings through a number of magical things, including kids. There is this amazing scene, for example, and I won't tell you too much, but it involves a child, an outhouse, and the pile of shit that he has to crawl through in order to meet the most famous celebrity in India. I kid you not, this scene (the outrageousness of which was to be topped in later scenes) made me completely not care that the plotline was outrageous, and that nobody really believes in everlasting love underscoring this movie.

Which in some ways is the strength of its setting in Mumbai, a place that has become all too familiar in the tabloids as of late and doubly unimaginable. Boyle has somehow made us forget the horrors of what's happened there overseas, exposed its underbelly of people who suffer but are in love, and why not? A tragedy doesn't rob a city of its magic or its sentimentality, and neither should the recent headlines for this movie. In truth, a part of me didn't even realize or care that Slumdog took place in Mumbai. When I walked out of it with my boyfriend, one of the first things that he said about it was, "It felt like a completely fantastical sort of film." Indeed. Yours truly, the self-identified Daria Morgendorffer of the Blaaaging team, has been sold.

You all know the deal... this is a post-finals event, everybody. It's called a party with some music, film, cool (scary, overwhelming) people, drink specials, AND a student discount.

SULU SERIES presents...

Brown Rice Family
www.brownricefamily.com

Kilusan1898
www.myspace.com/kilusan1898

Heesun Lee
www.myspace.com/heesunlee

Film Presentations by Corinne Manabat
-Parallel Adele by Adele Pham - www.paralleladele.com
-Hip Hop Mestizaje: Racialization, Resonance, and Filipino American Knowledge of Self by Mark Villegas

... and more!

SUNDAY, December 21, 2008
9 PM - 12 AM
$8 for General Public
$5 for students

Sulu Series Every Third Sunday of the Month!

Bowery Poetry Club
308 Bowery, New York, NY 10012
212.614.0505
(foot of First Street, between Houston & Bleecker
F train to Second Ave, or 6 train to Bleecker)
www.BoweryPoetry.com

www.MySpace.com/SuluSeries

Hosted by Regie Cabico, curated by Taiyo Na, with music by DJ Boo, and brought to you by the Sulu Artist Network, Sulu Series is a monthly showcase featuring established and emerging Asian American artists in music, spoken word, video and multidisciplinary performance from the local and national scenes.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=10942210157&ref=ts

...so, I admit, I started this off as a "Holiday Gift Guide"-themed post of sorts but scrapped the idea when, suddenly, it dawned to me: why would anyone out there in our readership of tens, when looking for a gift to give, think about listening to the advice of a man and his mostly useless interest in politically progressive hip-hop? Why would you even continue to write this post? Could it have to do with the fact that, after finishing your last final paper, you rejected the most obvious next step (sleep) and instead weighed the idea of writing a blog post?


(And, since it'd likely be asked by somebody eventually--for each artist, I've included their connection to Asian American cultural productions, Kevin Bacon style.)


BAMBU | ...exact change...

Reasons to Listen:
-Bam's lurid storytelling and dozens-playing is all the more focused, and it makes the album feel less meandering and more complete
-"Crooks and Rooks," his retrospective condemnation of gang violence that does its job without being preachy (and the beat is great)
-He can mention "Dirty Sanchez" in his lyrics without me cracking up or recoiling in horror. In other words, he's pretty clever (for those who don't know the term and want to find out: not for the prude)

Highlights: "Crooks and Rooks," "Quit," "Out the Gate," "Party Boy"

The Asian Bacon connection: Bambu is Filipino. One degree!


COMMON MARKET | Tobacco Road

Reasons to Listen:
-RA Scion (emcee) and Sabzi (producer) mesh extremely well, and it never feels forced
-"Back Home (The Return)," in which Sabzi flips the same sample from "Back Home" and makes it sound qualitatively different. Kudos!
-Who else could release a EP and LP with the thematic strain of the early-20th-century labor struggles of white tenant farmers in the rural South? It also merits this RA outfit.

Highlights: "Trouble Is," "Back Home (The Return)," "Weather Vane," "Nothin' At All"

The Asian Bacon connection: Sabzi's other group Blue Scholars features an emcee, Geologic, who is Filipino. Two degrees!


Q-TIP | The Renaissance

Reasons to Listen:
-Q-Tip makes the album sound like 1994 and 2008 at the exact same time, and every song feels like it belongs where it does. And he's still a solid rapper!
-"We Fight/We Love." Gotta love Raphael Saadiq
-Pop it in and you'll start reminiscing about the "good ol' days of hip-hop," a nostalgic reminder of the Midnight Marauders days when we were 6 and singing along to the Power Rangers theme song
-Tip's hat in the "Gettin' Up" music vid. Few people could get away with that

Highlights: "Gettin' Up," "We Fight/We Love," "Move," "Dance on Glass"

The Asian Bacon connection: The music video for "Move" was directed by Rik Cordero, who is Filipino. Also, to give the non-Pin@ys a chance: "Life is Better" features Norah Jones, who is Desi. 2 x 2 degrees!


INVINCIBLE | ShapeShifters

Reasons to Listen:
-Her lyricism is the densest and cleverest of anything I've heard in like 5 years. On "Sledgehammer!" alone, she alludes to the Detroit Pistons, Peter Gabriel, J Dilla, Fred Hampton, Orville Redenbacher, and Frantz Fanon, and has the line "there goes the neighborhood, like Fred Sanford next door to Ned Flanders."
-Strong, critical, genuinely feminist rappers are few and far between in a world of music industries that put butt & bust sizes first
-She walks the walk, and is a community/youth organizer and educator in Detroit and Ann Arbor!

Highlights: "Sledgehammer!," "Spacious Skies," "Recognize," "Locusts," and everything else

The Asian Bacon connection: ShapeShifters both quotes and features an audio sample from Grace Lee Boggs, who is also a badass Detroit community organizer, and is Chinese. Two degrees! This is pretty easy.


KANYE WEST | 808's and Heartbreak

Reasons to Listen:
-.

Highlights: "Spaceship," "Two Words," "Heard 'Em Say," "Flashing Lights"

The Asian Bacon connection: Kanye often works with Jay-Z, whose album American Gangster was based on the movie featuring Denzel Washington, which also featured Josh Brolin, who was in Hollow Man with Kevin Bacon!

(Good night.)


Behold! A distraction:



This looks like the sucks. Hollywood, why are you doing this?

Interesting article on the first Vietnamese-American elected to Congress. Take a closer look at the reporting in the following exerpts.

"NEW ORLEANS — Soft-spoken, retiring and diminutive, Anh Cao does not appear to fit the role of dragon-slayer."

"Mr. Cao was a refugee from Vietnam at age 8, a former Jesuit seminarian, a philosophy student with a penchant for Camus and Dostoyevsky, an unknown activist lawyer for one of the least visible immigrant communities here and a Republican in a heavily Democratic district."

"Mr. Cao is not large, standing only 5 feet 2 inches by his own sheepishly given reckoning. But he is persistent and has the sort of difficult life story that would have made taking on Mr. Jefferson seem like a lesser hurdle."

"He is only a recent convert to the Republican Party, having been a registered independent for most of his adult life, and has no position — at least not one he cares to share yet — on President-elect Barack Obama's agenda. His politics seem less a matter of ideology than of low-key temperament and a Jesuit-inspired desire to “help and serve people,” as he put it. His mother bundled him onto a military transport plane with some siblings as Saigon fell in 1975 — “She shoved me along with a bunch of relatives,” he said — and he was separated from his father, a South Vietnamese army officer sent to a prison camp, for 16 years. He recalls a letter he received from his father at age 9, sent from the prison: Study hard, and give back to the community."

"Mr. Cao left the Jesuits, set up as a lawyer and began advocating for the small Vietnamese community clustered in the eastern section of New Orleans. Like others in the community, his life was devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, which flooded his house with eight feet of water. And like others, he quickly bounced back, part of a resilience in the community that was chronicled here in the first months after the hurricane hit. "

"The odds did not look good for Mr. Cao, but he was helped by two circumstances. Whites, fed up with the scandals around Mr. Jefferson, who is black, turned out in force, and blacks stayed home. In largely white precincts, turnout was around 26 percent, while in the blackest precincts, it was only around 12 percent, said Greg Rigamer, a New Orleans demographer and analyst."



"Full article: "History and Amazement in House Race Outcome"


http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/08/us/politics/08cao.html?partner=permalink&exprod=permalink

Published: December 7, 2008

This term is one of many, including insomnia, caffeine, laptops, and work, that Barnard and Columbia students can't help but tack onto their social identities for the time being:
geek
The people you pick on in high school and wind up working for as an adult
The geeky kid now owns a million dollar software company
Can you think of more?

Just thought about this, especially since I just realized that I'm the only regular contributor who reps Millie the dancing Barnard bear pride. Our friend Saffiyah Madraswala BC '09 recently started an initiative to make Ethnic Studies a more feasible reality at Barnard. She's been organizing weekly meetings, and a small group of students discuss issues surrounding Ethnic Studies and discuss academic articles.

In other cool APA Barnardian news, Katie Wang BC '10 and Joanne Lin BC '09 have been heading a relatively new committee called Society of Asian American Sisters (SAAS - we know, it sounds like BOSS) where APA women on Barnard and Columbia's campuses conjoin to talk about the intersecting issues of race and gender. There are sometimes also funny, awkward film screenings, like the one where we got together at David and Nhu-Y's suite and watched Ang Lee's Eat Drink Man Woman, which was completely in Chinese so Nhu-Y felt marginalized (even though it was subtitled).

Both these initiatives started in the Fall '08 semester, and both are started by really cool awesome Barnard APA women whom I'm proud to mingle and work with.

Michelle Rhee (see entry title for her job) made the cover of Time magazine! That is an awesome feat. As our crazy friend Joanne describes, "She's a mad woman tearing her way through the school system; the teachers hate her, the principals fear her and I think she's awesome." Thanks, Joanne, we think so too.


This is one that we don't get to hear about very often. Mickey Rourke, that washed up actor from the '80s who has semi-revived his career with Darren Aronofsky's The Wrestler, was outed by TMZ yesterday. In a post titled "Dim Sumofa Bitch -- Rourke takes a shot as Asians", TMZ writes:

It wasn't just politically incorrect -- things got downright offensive last night when Mickey Rourke told a fan whose camera wasn't clicking, "You're Asian, you're supposed to be able to take pictures."
So I'm a little ashamed to say that I have a lot of double standards, but who doesn't, so whatever. I think (or know) that I have a double standard, maybe because yesterday Tina's comment didn't bother me so much as amuse me, yet Mickey Rourke's comment kind of annoys me. Maybe it's because I think that Mickey Rourke is sort of not worth covering or speaking about, and Tina has actually done something funny with the issue of racial typecasting. Plus, Tina's a woman and she's pulled off the feat of having every guy love her without being Paris Hilton who shoves pineapples up her v-j. Mickey Rourke probably hasn't thought much about race, he's already made the mistake of offending another community (the gay community), he's dating a twelve year old (Evan Rachel Wood), and up until a few months ago nobody cared about what he says. So maybe I'm more pissed that TMZ thinks that Mickey Rourke is worth me getting offended over! Shut up, TMZ.

(Thanks for the tip, Calvin)


You probably heard that Tina Fey (writer and star of one of the Blaaag's favorite shows, 30 Rock) made the cover of Vanity Fair again (her last time was with Sarah Silverman and Amy Poehler as the three funny graces). There's all this hullabaloo about the article's inaccuracies and the controversy of Tina's ugly years, but what really screamed at the Blaaager inside me was this quote:

Fey recalls she was at her heaviest in Chicago and, later, sitting at a desk at S.N.L. “I’m five four and a half, and I think I was maxing out at just short of 150 pounds, which isn’t so big. But when you move to New York from Chicago, you feel really big. Because everyone is pulled together, small, and Asian. Everyone’s Asian.”
Oh, Tina, you're right about New Yorkers being thinner (it's the walking more miles per day than any other city thing), but I'm sure there are lots of not pulled together, not-so-small Asians in Chicago (and New York) too.

As we descend into what is known by Blaaagers as "finals hell" once again, a writer joins our team! Meet Vivian...

Name: Vivian Chenxue (Morning Snow) Lu
School / Year: CC 2010
Hometown: Boulder, Colorado


Most hours you've not slept: Around 50, a combination of violent illness and a 72-hour airport-hopping period.

Favorite class next semester: "Who is Indigenous?" and "Medicine and Power in African History" and "Soccer"

Favorite subscription on Google Reader: I'm not sure how to answer this question.

Favorite racist joke: my blaaag debut was already posted below courtesy of nhu-y.

Favorite weekend haunt: Colorado or walking around NYC

Your hipster street cred on a scale of 1-10 and why: 1. i do wear flannel on occasion at home (and my sheets might even be flannel) but i credit that to being from the mountains anyway.

In your opinion, why is AAAPC the best organization ever founded on
the face of the earth, ever?
For me, AAAPC is the current campus populasian having conversasians on issues of representasian, marginalizasian, migrasian, alienasian, manipulasian, violasian, enebriasian, collaborasian, decolonizasian, approrpiasian and socializasian of APAs to move collectively through educasian towards liberasian and a (re)creasian of Asian Pacific America for generasians to come.

How do you feel being the only Blaaager not doing APAAM next semester?
I'll take my Asian American "Awareness" jokes down a notch.

What your likely three next posts on The Blaaag will be about:
1. How politics/current events outside of the US disproportionately affects government/society's view of Asian Americans and what this says about our racialized position.
2. Exorcisms
3. "Pan-Asian"

While we are constantly (re)defining what Asian America means to us as the youth, the new generation - what's going on with our elders?

"NEW YORK – According to a survey recently published by the Asian American Coalition, poverty among elders in the United States is dropping overall, but poverty among elders in New York city is rising, from 10 percent in the 90's, to 22 percent today. The poverty ratio for Asian elders is even higher, at 29 percent. China Press cites that in 1959, the poverty ratio among elders was 35 percent in the United States. After the federal government made efforts to help elders, the number went back down to 15 percent.

This economic crisis has hit Asian Americans particularly hard. Not only are they the fastest growing ethnic group in the U.S., but Asian Americans are becoming elders faster than any other group. There are currently about 90,000 Asian elders living in New York City and that number is expected to grow to 190,000 by 2020."

China Press

http://news.ncmonline.com/news/view_article.html?article_id=1f0ed215534ba053cdae6ec5109058b9

Maybe the only thing that will make your sleepless, working night better is a spoof on Asian toddlers and Oriental products, you say? Well, here you go.



DISCLAIMER: No, this album is certainly not related to Asian American anything, really. Rather, it (probably) comes from us Blaaagers' constant and unwavering desire to weave pop culture references and bizarre miscellany into our daily lives, and Kanye West fits into both of those categories. So, here goes...

LONG VERSION:

It was the spring of 2004 when I popped Kanye West’s debut album, The College Dropout, into a CD player not knowing what to expect or who, exactly, he was. I ended up keeping it in steady rotation for over a year—the album had brought to mainstream hip-hop a sort of human depth unheard of in a medium owned by corporate bigwigs and policed by monotony’s foot soldiers, urban radio stations. It managed to be simultaneously pensive, humorous, soulful, passionate, angry, and head-noddable. And he was still cocky back then, but he funneled it into an oh-no-he-didn’t sort of attitude that you had to respect—his first single, “All Falls Down,” was censored not due to excessive profanity but because of Kanye’s assertion that the urban drug trade was fueled when “a white man get paid off of all of that.” In the wake of Katrina, who can forget him standing next to an uncomfortable-looking Mike Myers as he ranted about George Bush not caring about black people? He was boldly defiant, a solid producer, a not-too-bad rapper, and for all of that we followed his ascent.

You could see his true quality way back then, in a man who could merge Nina Simone with Talib Kweli in the uplifting underdog anthem “Get By” while also bringing Luther Vandross back into the freak alongside Twista and Jamie Foxx, and mumbling through Chaka Khan and a jaw brace about his almost-untimely car accident. Kanye had that range, the eclectic brand of critique, celebration, and introspect which he could flip in unison to make him (rightly) famous. Angry awardless rantings aside, it was clear that Kanye wasn’t so much controlled by his ego that the two were partners in crime, part of a larger persona that kept him in the limelight. And Kanye was less hip-hop’s golden innovator (The dude from Maroon 5! The dude from Coldplay!) than a masterful navigator of pop music, always able to say to the right audience the right thing at the right time.

808’s and Heartbreak comes at a particularly difficult time in his life, but it certainly doesn’t lose sight of that business model. Kanye’s seen two major pitfalls since 2007’s Graduation—the sudden death of his mother Donda last November, and his breakup with then-fiance Alexis Phifer in April—the two topics of this album, and the latter of which fuels almost every single song. Gone are the angry Broke Phi Broke rants of Bernie Mac (also, rest in peace), a slew of well-placed guest rappers, and the high-speed soul samples that are the staple of Kanye West albums. In its place are the unilateral use of 808 drum machines, ethereal synth-heavy instrumentals, and the infamous, digitizing Auto-Tune. The last of those is perhaps the most pervasive, because Kanye is not T-Pain, nor does he utilize the device in a consciously self-mocking way a la Snoop Dogg talking about ejaculation. No, Kanye makes sure he’ll get the notes right (or rather, something will get the notes right for him) as he belts out his heartbreak, grief, angst, and loss.

Unfortunately, he does it again. And again. And the songs start to bleed together, and you start to hear bizarre lines like “when I grab your neck, I touch your soul” or Lil Wayne calling someone “Mrs. Pee-Yew.” Even sonic aberrations—the 80’s dance-pop of “Paranoid,” the soft-spoken rock ballad of “Street Lights”—will always remind the listener that he’s so singularly focused on his ex until he has to stretch a little bit and call her a RoboCop. No doubt the singing, thematic lyrics, and melodic sameness are all part of Kanye’s ever-calculating artistic maneuvers to explode into artsy, left-field pop music, or perhaps be crowned New King of the Hipsters. And yeah, the opposite sex is the impetus for 95% of pop music. Yet I can’t help feeling disappointed with this album, and that’s not just because my knowledge of non-rapped music doesn’t extend that much further beyond Motown, John Legend, and the occasional Corinne Bailey Rae (the not-so-secret guilty pleasure, I suppose).

To be fair, the album is far from disastrous, and Kanye’s artistic integrity is never really lost; I thought “Heartless,” “Amazing,” and “Coldest Winter” were all likable songs, and the album as a whole is still worthy of repeated listens. But Kanye’s magic—the musically and thematically eclectic showcase that he’s been increasingly eschewing with each album—is harder to find here. Of course, artists are human beings who grow, and who appreciatively turn their personal scars into creativity. Kanye’s musical transgressions and expositions are always welcome, but without the wit, wisdom, and width of past projects, it’s getting harder to listen to.

SHORT VERSION:

As Nhu-Y puts it: "weeeeird...but I feel like I'll be looping it on repeat soon, during finals delusion." Let's just say it's right for that.

Courtesy of Asian American Alliance Political Committee member, Vivian, via GChat:

Vivian:
What do you call a fat chinaman?
me:
oh no
what?
Vivian:
a chunk
me:
LOL
hahahahahaah

And, scene.

World-famous Glenn Magpantay sends voting rights volunteers the following notice about AALDEF internships. Heads up, underclassmen - y'all want to do this.

Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund

SPRING and SUMMER INTERNSHIPS 2009

Undergraduate and Law School


The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), founded in 1974, protects and promotes the civil rights of Asian Americans through litigation, advocacy, and community education. For more information about AALDEF, visit our website at www.aaldef.org. Internships are available for the following:


· Anti-Trafficking Project, legal research on the Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (TVPA), as well as outreach, community education, and advocacy on the rights of women and youth trafficking survivors.

· Community Health Care Initiative, research, as well as community education and outreach in the areas of immigration, government benefits, language rights, and health care access;

· Economic Justice for Workers, litigation on behalf of garment, restaurant, and other low wage workers;

· Educational Equity and Youth Rights, legal services, policy work, community education, research and litigation concerning educational equity, juvenile justice, affirmative action and post 9-11 hate violence and racial targeting;

· Housing Justice Project, direct legal services, community outreach/education, and litigation on housing and land use issues affecting low-income Asian immigrant communities;

· Immigrant Access to Justice, litigation, legal services, and organizing/outreach with communities impacted by 9-11, including special interest detainees, special registration, voluntary interviews by the government, the 9-11 absconder initiative, and local and state enforcement of immigration laws;

· New Jersey Asian American Legal Project, community outreach, education, and legal services to Asian Americans in NJ, as well as community organizing and litigation on employment-related claims for Asian immigrant workers in NJ.

· South Asian Workers Project, direct legal services on employment-related claims to South Asian immigrant workers, as well as community education and advocacy; and

· Voting Rights, legal research and fact development under the Voting Rights Act and Equal Protection challenging anti-Asian voter discrimination, advocacy on bilingual ballots, and state and local election reform; produce reports and organize public forums.


Description of Internships.

Interns are supervised by staff in specific program areas. Legal interns work primarily on legal research and writing, legal and policy advocacy, community outreach and education, and client intakes. Undergraduate interns work on policy advocacy, community outreach and organizing, and some client intakes. Each program area differs in emphasis. These internships are not paid positions, but academic credit can be arranged. Spring interns work anywhere between 8 to 25 hours per week and usually commences with the start of classes. Summer interns work full time for 10 weeks.


To Apply:

Any bilingual ability should be stated in the resume. Bilingual ability is helpful but not required. Spring applicants should also state the number of hours they can work per week and a possible schedule. Send a resume and cover letter to:

Spring / Summer Intern Search

Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF)
99 Hudson Street, 12th floor
New York, New York 10013-2815
Fax: 212-966-4303

Email: info@aaldef.org


For more information, contact Jennifer Weng at 212-966-5932, ext. 212 or jweng@aaldef.org.

The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) recently released preliminary results from its 2008 General Election Asian American exit poll. Check it out here.

Various Blaaagers and members of the Columbia Asian American Alliance were poll monitors for AALDEF on November 4th. We were assigned to various locations, among them Queens, Brooklyn, and, in my case, Philadelphia. After twelve hours of monitoring, some of us became delusional, others suffered caffeine induced seizures. My favorite experience that day involves a drunk voter at my poll site who enjoyed calling everyone "Chiquita".

Nothing, however, will ever be on the same level as an encounter I had at a Chinatown poll site during the 2007 Democratic Primary. I asked a voter what his ethnicity was for the survey, and this was our conversation:

Me: What is your ethnicity, Sir?
Voter: Sexy.
Me: Um, could you specify?
Voter: I am sexy.
Me: Okay...

Perhaps readers of the Blaaag (yes, all THREE of you out there in cyberworld) will be motivated to volunteer with AALDEF in the next election, so they, too, can be harassed. It's partly offensive, partly amusing, and TOTALLY EMPOWERING!

Contradictions

In Florida, an Initiative Intended to End Bias Is Killed

"An obscure ballot initiative in Florida intended to end a legacy of bias against Asian-Americans was defeated Tuesday, apparently because voters incorrectly assumed it would prevent illegal immigrants from owning property."

Also, in my home state of Nebraska, they banned affirmative action. And we all know about Proposition 8 in California. There were similar referenda in Arizona and Florida. Obama is President-elect, and the symbolism (and potential) in his presidency is very potent, but there is obviously much more to be done, especially in light these setbacks. As I have been reminded by various blogs and commentators, progress is not linear, and we can't stop now.


Event tomorrow! Check Facebook for more information.
Cammy Lee Leukemia Drive
Friday, November 7, 2008, 11 am - 3 pm
Lerner East Ramp Lounge
Each fall, Lambda Phi Epsilon holds the Cammy Lee Leukemia Donor Registration Drive to help the victims of leukemia and other blood diseases, particularly for those of Asian/Pacific Islander heritage. As marrow and stem cells are hereditary, most patients would most likely find matches within their own ethnicities.
The Cammy Lee Foundation collects samples from donors with a simple, painless mouth swab, and in the case of a potential database match with a leukemia patient, the donor is then contacted. There is no obligation and no commitment aside from a mouth swab on the day of the drive. The entire process of registering into the national donor database takes about 5 minutes.
We have scheduled this year's bone marrow drive for Friday, November 7th from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. in Lerner East Ramp Lounge. We encourage everyone to come and register, and potentially save a life! If you have already registered in a previous Cammy Lee registration drive, there is no need to re-register.
Our partners at Global AMSA will also be on hand to spread the word of cancer awareness by giving out cranes. Lambda Phi Epsilon will also be giving out free pizza and cookies!

On my Google Reader today: After Obama Win, Black Muslim Teen Beaten With Bat on Staten Island.

Overheard in the Barnard Economics computer lab:
"So after the election, this guy I know said, 'I can't wait until Obama gets shot.'"
"God, that's terrible."
"People in the Midwest suck."
"He's going to have to ride in the Popemobile."

Also overheard:
A friend from North Carolina was coming back to Barnard after Election Day. While on the plane, some (obviously Republican) guys talked about their disappointment over the President-Elect. One of them stated, "Whatever, he's going to get shot anyway."

YES

YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES.

YES! WE! DID!

Just a friendly reminder to VOTE! DO IT! DO IT! And if you encounter problems, report them! YOU HAVE AGENCY!

Okay, pre-election anxiety kicking in, obviously.

Have a wonderful Tuesday, folks.

In the vein of last year's Max Karson incident, Vent Magazine sent a Facebook message about a new bout of racism that occurred in Boulder, Colorado:

A 22-year-old Asian-American was repeatedly punched in the face early today in Boulder and forced to say "I love America," Boulder police reported.

That attack and a reported sexual assault led to condemnations from both university and city officials.

The Asian-American victim told investigators that he was walking in the area of 10th and Marine streets with friends about 1 a.m., singing a song from the movie "Team America." He said they were confronted by four men.

One of the men — described as being a blond white male about 19 or 20 — said, "Do you think you are an American?" called him a "Chinaman," punched him in the face "multiple times" and told him to say that he loved America, police said.

This is so sad. I love Team America, so I'm almost positive that the song the attackers were singing is "America! Fuck Yeah!". But the movie is a satire of American politics, and the song is meant to be ironic. What is it with people not understanding comedy and turning it into something ugly and sad instead?

Corinne Manabat (Filmmaker), Brian Redondo (AALDEF Employee... and Dancer?), and Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai (Spoken Word Artist and Powerful Yellow Woman), spreading the word about the elections and the Asian American vote. Watch this shit, it's good.

"The Reminder"


"Black White Whatever"

It's business time

For those of you who aren't casting absentee ballots... find out where your polling site is at Vote411.org.

In other news about the Asian American vote: the Asian American Legal Defense Education Fund has created a Facebook group called "Protect the Asian American Vote!", three Blaaagers will be volunteering on election day (as dispatchers, poll monitors, and supervisors), and Kal Penn (one of the biggest Obama celebrity-campaigners) has made a Get Out the Vote vid.

The creators of MMIAF have cooked up something new. Our friend/conspirator/psycho preemptively called this one a few days ago:

how come there are no fobby dads out there? I wish i hadn't lost my phone- i had so many good fobby mom texts in there.....
Send in your fobby dad quotes! I'm gonna have a ball with this one.

ECAASU 2009 will promote the unique nature of the vast Asian cultures while emphasizing the need for the unification of ALL Asian American students.

This conference will be, by far, the highlight of your scholastic year. With exceptional workshops, captivating speakers, and fierce entertainment, ECAASU 2009 will be an unforgettable experience - one you definitely do NOT want to miss out on!

The 2009 conference will be held at the luxurious Hyatt Regency in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Fitted with spacious ballrooms and swanky rooms, the hotel is walking distance from the Rutgers University College Avenue Campus, making it the prime location for this conference.
This can be better written.

Love,
A humble ECAASU fan and attendee

(P.S. Is this an appropriate albeit cynical Blaaag post?)

EDIT:

Marilla writes, "i'm sorry, i honestly didn't read any of that, except the part where they said "vast Asian cultures" and i completely flashed back to the cornell president's speech [last year at ECAASU]. oops."

Happy bday, T. Xie! After your first professional year at that fancy investment company, we at The Blaaag are happy to know that you still throw ridiculous parties. Even if they're now in a neighborly residential spot in Astoria, with annoyed downstairs neighbors. We're also happy to know that you still shout nonsense after a few hours and a few drinks.

Love, us.

There's a discussion THIS SUNDAY 8pm in Lerner's Broadway Room. See the event. Be there!

NROTC: Idea Exchange
Sunday, 10/26 @ 8pm in the Broadway Room in Lerner

United Students of Color Council wants to provide a safe space for the community of color and our allies to talk about the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC).

Come continue the conversations you've been having or begin the conversation on Sunday! We will begin by summarizing what has been happening in relation to NROTC on this campus and what will be happening. After pooling our knowledge together, we will begin a dialogue about the implications of NROTC. Issues to be addressed, include: Don't Ask Don't Tell (DADT); race/ethnicity and class in relation to the military; military presence on Columbia University's campus, and more.

Come hear what your peers have to say and share your thoughts too!

Patrick Chang, AAA social chair, has sent another ridiculous email. This time, he is "laying down the fucking LAW." Enjoy.

This message is for Everybody

Dear You all,
I'm sorry for the last minute change, but the cultureshock meeting on Sunday is for EVERYONE. I'm laying down the fucking LAW and everyone has to be there. We have 4 weeks until cultureshock, which for all of you illiterates, it means that EVERYONE has to get crackin on EVERYTHING. I will let everyone know their job there, just be prepared. Cause if you don't get your shit done I will be pissed. Just prepare for a world of pain. Like seriously. I'm already angry. I'll see you all there Patrick

Patrick

So at today's Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA) 5 Year and Intercultural Resource Center (IRC) 20 Year anniversary celebration, Senior Assistant Dean Melinda Aquino made a little speech about the difficulty in creating an Office of Multicultural Affairs and all the benefits that its creation has brought. Then she called out the alumni that were in attendance and guess who responded! Kevin Nadal!


Any of you who were at the LGBTQ Sulu Series this summer will definitely remember him, because he did this amazing standup routine that included how Filipinos can always spot each other from across the room and the classic "So what are you... really?" question (aka, "Where are you really from?", aka every ethnic American's greatest fear). Well, guess what, he's a Columbia alum and an ex-ROOTEd facilitator! I totally got his card. David called me a groupie, but it was worth it.

Yay OMA / IRC! Yay Kevin Nadal!


10:30 PM at C555 for AAA's Teahouse, with musical guest Alice Hu!

Another thing that we've heard very little of... until now. The thirty-six current and former workers who sued Saigon Grill "for violating wage laws won a $4.6 million judgment today".

Yay! Read more about it at Grub Street.

Tian, former chair of AAA, and current fancy analyst for some fancy place Midtown East, recently made "MY MOM IS A FOB" blog with this entry:

caffeine leads to the coffin

(Written by my mother in an e-mail discussing a bill I received from a pharmacy)

Mom: Try to not eat too much Madison , you may addict to it, just like you addict to coffin.

Midterms

Midterms, a horrible beast. But here at Blaaag, we relieve the stress by looping songs, zoning out, and writing papers we later have no memory of.

Some song suggestions, from my personal collection:

Usher - Burn
Allure - All Cried Out
Britney Spears - Oops!... I did it Again (MAH FAVE)
Mary J. Blige - Be Without You
Mariah Carey - Fantasy

I don't want to touch this one, but somehow I think that I might have to. The race argument is such an overused, ignorant one that I barely feel like talking about why Powell, who is a Republican, an advisor and friend to McCain, and an initial supporter of the Iraq occupation, was and always has been likely to endorse McCain. I can't be the only person out there who saw the New York Times article that basically quoted Powell verbatim that the tipping point for his endorsement, after what must have been a serious weigh-in of both candidates, was (not race but) the atrociousness of McCain's campaign tactics and the unlikelihood that McCain's administration would help our nation.

I also don't want to talk about the fact that even while it seems likely that Powell would have endorsed McCain, he has always been viewed as a moderate Republican with liberal leanings. He is, for one, pro-choice, has admitted to the errors in evidence pointing towards a need to invade Iraq, has served and dissociated himself from the Bush administration, and has, in the end, shown a stance that in many ways aligns with Obama's.

Since Powell's initial likelihood to endorse either McCain or Obama seems to have stood on equal footing, and other tipping points (besides race) have been put on the table, I don't want to finally talk about the fact that it doesn't matter if Powell factored race into the equation, but it matters that Limbaugh suggests that this factor was a primary reason for Powell's decision. It's a gross misrepresentation of Powell's experience as well as his political background.

After a few hours straight of midterm-writing, I don't care to write extensively about this. In fact, I don't even think that I'm making a coherent argument. so I'll just let you read other blogs that actually say something less roundabout and vague.

The tactic's enabler is none other than Patrick Chang, AAA's Social Chair.

Read his e-mail below:

Free Braveheart Movie Showing at my PLACE!

NOT

I tricked you guys into looking at my e-mail about what else besides
FLYERING

That braveheart title was not totally random. I will supply you with an in depth analysis/annotation of a speech from Braveheart

"I am William Wallace. And I see a whole army of my countrymen, here in defiance of tyranny! You have come to fight (he meant flyer here instead of fight) as free men. And free man you are! What will you do without freedom? Will you fight(and here)?" "Two thousand against ten?" - the veteran shouted. "No! We will run - and live(this guy also meant flyer)!" "Yes!" Wallace shouted back. "Fight and you may die(aka watch as your flyer's are torn down). Run and you will live at least awhile. And dying in your bed many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for one chance, just one chance, to come back here as young men and tell our enemies that they may take our [flyer's down] but they will never take our [ability to flyer 3 days in a row!]!"
No wonder people think that AAA is full of weirdos.

Check. This. Out.

Simply, a blog about all the funny things that our fobby mommies do. My favorite?

SUBJECT LINE: I UNDERSTAND YOU

Now I realize the difference between students graduated from Yale or Harvard and other regular university. So your dad and me are not worried about your job, but worry about one thing which your dad wants me to talk with you.

I understand you, like all other young people, would like to experience the love, a romantic love. We also know, to stop young people having sax before marriage is impossible, but we’d like to remind you, at least you should always protect yourself well.

1. Do not let pregnancy happen.

2. Prevent the disease. your skin is not good, I am afraid the first time having sex you might get pain and suffered.

with love,

Mom


Don't know what a FOB is?

NAASCon, Day Two

Since I'm cracked out in Butler, I'm going to keep this recap short:

  • NAASCon's afterparty was in a warehouse. Let me repeat that, A WAREHOUSE. 18+, $3 cover, unlimited drinks, and glow-in-the-dark neon bracelets. It was like a seedy rave, but without any E
  • The afterparty DJ played bad music. There was, at one point, a techno mix (see rave comment above)
  • Debbie Wei is such a powerful speaker. There were people crying in the audience. She also made a bad joke about how most of the movement she gets is aided by Metamucil (Oh god)
  • Monna, Linda, and my "Embodied, Empowered" workshop was really successful! There was great discussion, great feedback, and we were the only student workshop facilitators at the conference. I'm so proud!
  • The Northeastern regional caucus (facilitated by Vivian and Bryan, with a lot of Columbia representation) was also pretty successful. Lots and lots of people. Some of the issues discussed: Asian American Studies and Ethnic Studies, the divide between cultural and political groups, and various conferences on the East Coast
  • Georgian supermarkets are huge. Hugeeeeeee
  • Georgian supermarkets also don't seem to have Georgian peaches, but instead California peaches and such. Vivian thinks this is an example of "why capitalism sucks"
  • Driving in good weather is much better than driving in a storm
  • We accidentally drove into a night wedding in a botanical garden, and thought that it was a cult ritual
  • Our favorite rockstars, Julia Rhee, Dennis Chin, and May Lin were in attendance
  • We accidentally stumbled into Eats, a soul food restaurant run by hipsters. It was the hippest place in all of Atlanta
  • We also stumbled across Krystal and Zesto, which had, respectively, Pumpkin Pie Milkquake and great soft serve.
  • Yay Atlanta! Yay NAASCon!
  • Most of the ethnic restaurants have stupid names, with things like "Thaicoon" or "Panda" in them (Nhu-Y: "WE DON'T EAT PANDAS")
  • We had Cracker Barrel on the way back. The hostess asked for Vivian's name and said, "Ravine?" Yeah, we're that ethnic
(Nhu-Y, Vivian, Saff, and others - if you remember other important things, please add them in the comments section!)

Our beloved Dean Nair, who left us this summer for U. Penn, is currently slated to be a keynote speaker at ECAASU 2009. He also just published a book. What a baller.


Remember one of our favorite blogs, Stuff White People Like? Well, now you can read it in hard copy, because it's a book! Huzzah!

Last minute event!

Those of you who are still at Barnard/Columbia... if you're interested in meeting some cool ECAASU people, or just people from other schools, try to make it to the national board's annual mixer. RSVP is required. See details below:

Saturday, 10/18


Dinner Reservations @ Boat Basin Cafe

from 5:00 PM to 6:00 PM

Dinner & Pregaming

from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM

Postgame at apartment
from 9:00 PM to 11:00 PM

Optional afterparty @ bar/lounge

from 11:00 PM to whenever

People MUST RSVP for the ECAASU NYC mixer on Saturday, October 18th for proper representation at this year's ECAASU conference. Everyone is welcome to attend!
Calvin Sun will be hosting this mixer again this year; dinner is heavily subsidized (ECAASU is covering $200-$300 of it!) and it'll be a great way to network with student leaders from other schools in your area.

Form to RSVP:
http://ecaasunational.org/index.php?page=mixerrsvp

So far, there are people coming from schools including CUNY Brooklyn College, Hunter College, SUNY Stony Brook, George Washington University, St. John's University, Tufts University, NYU, and Yale University.

NAASCon, Day One

After arriving at our motel-room-straight-from-a-Coen-Brothers-film, Saffiyah, Nhu-Y, Vivian and I watched CNN's election coverage for a few hours and pigged out at Sweet Tomatoes (an all you can eat "salad buffet"... see Nhu-Y's entry below).

We got lost a few times while navigating our way to Emory, which is quite huge and beautiful (completely different from Barnard or Columbia). We made our way to White Hall to watch Vincent Who?, a documentary by Curtis Chin that garnered a lot of attention because of 1) its banking on Vincent Chin's legacy... see our Staff page 2) Curtis Chin's family ties to Vincent Chin 3) Its follow-up on the Academy Award-nominated 1985 documentary, Who Killed Vincent Chin?

When we walked in, Vincent Who? was already halfway done. The film's general format was a series of talking heads listing the impact that Vincent Chin had on their lives, spliced with scenes of those same interviewees (ranging from community activists, to lawyers, to journalists, to entertainers, to bloggers - Angry Asian Man and Sepia Mutiny!) in action. We missed this part, but at the beginning, the filmmaker approached several Asian American youths, asking if they knew who Vincent Chin is (the general answer was a resounding "No").

All in all, an interesting follow-up to Christine Choy and Renee Tajima-Pena's work, but it did very little to bridge the awareness gap between generations as well as between Asian American subgroups. I'm tempted to geek out about the bad sound and lighting quality, but I won't do that here. I forgive Curtis Chin those shortcomings due to a possibly limited budget.

After the film screening, I greeted some friends, then shuttled down to Holiday Inn with co-presenters Monna and Linda. We're doing a workshop called "Embodied, Empowered: Asian American Women". Nhu-Y with Bryan Lee (we call him Grandpa) are doing an AALDEF workshop called "Asian American Voting Rights and Political Participation". Vivian and Saffiyah are facilitating the Regional Caucuses (which, admittedly, we don't know anything about). It's going to be a ruckus.

Oh, and some Atlanta anecdote: they give their restaurants ridiculous names, like "Rise and Dine" and "Lettuce Souprise You". Linda came up with a joke for that one: "Knock knock." "Who's there?" "Lettuce." "Lettuce who?" "Lettuce Souprise You!"


Well, it's true. But now we have a whole site devoted to it. Perhaps this is to dissuade the 2/3 of Vietnamese Americans who support him.

Hotlanta

After eighteen hours, Marilla, Vivian, Saffiyah, and I have arrived in Atlanta for NAASCon at Emory University. We missed the registration time due to some delays, among them ridiculous traffic in Jersey (my open road Nebraskan ways were not familiar with this) and a much-needed stop at Cracker Barrel in South Carolina. Some highlights of our trip include the discovery that every radio station in every state we have driven through plays country music, and an encounter with high schoolers wearing monster masks at a gas station in Pennsylvania. We are, in conclusion, very cracked out.

We're currently lounging in a hotel room straight out of a Coen brothers's film, and are excited for NAASCon (and sleep)!

Check out the schedule for some of tonight's highlights, including a film screening of Vincent Who?.

We have taken photos, and we will post them soon. We know you are excited of pictures of us looking tired, cranky, and sitting in rocking chairs outside of Cracker Barrel.

Edit:
We went to an all-you-can-eat salad buffet.



It was good...in theory.

The danger of having a less-than-prolific blog now is that it gets harder to publicize and organize around issues that are urgent and relevant to our communities. It's important now that we get back on track.

So far the news has hit all the outlets. Asian students, once again, seem to be targeted for victims of assault. While not all of the news pieces make note, here are the facts: five of seven students assaulted Sunday morning were Asian, as was the only female assaulted. The Columbia Spectator, IvyGate, Gothamist, The Daily News, Fox News NY, and even our esteemed Asian American anti-racist blogger Angry Asian Man have all moved to publicize these incidents. Commendable, sure, and for some perhaps a little more for alluding to preexisting racial discourses.

And then we turn to the surveillance tape. We see footage of people of color in stereotypic street wear. "Stereotypic" because it's unclear how much good viewing images of what the Daily News described as a "gang of punks" will do for protecting the student body. These are images that parents back home fear and leave us voicemails about. These are the images that make people feel that rapid, systematic gentrification and displacement is a good thing. They make it hard for otherwise sensible, conscious people to walk north of 120th St.

Minghui Yu didn't die just a few months ago because of one inhumane 13-year old who drove him into oncoming traffic. He was killed by reinforced notions of people of Asian descent as weak, effeminate, and easy game. As complicit are the ideas that inner city black males are urban predators.

These are not things I make up. Look at the comments on any of the sites I linked above. "Asians really need to get their heads out of their books and start acting like a real community instead of just a demographic," one commenter writes. Another writes, "Can't we just shoot these thugs...sick of living in this human cesspool." Some seem harmless, but we should reexamine why "Skinny Asian students always are victims!" is acceptable discourse. What is freedom of speech worth when speech spreads veiled hate?

These comments aren't abstractions in the vacuum of internet space. They're ideas reinforced by almost everything we say and do. It's about time we revisit this system; this is why this blog exists.

What can we do? We can hold more events with community organizations that deal with anti-Asian violence, with collaboration with our closest allies (BSO, BOSS). the way we did last semester to expand our understanding of these events. Who will attend? What will it do?

What can be done? Please give thoughts in the comments.


 

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