Category: Entertainment

Andrew Lam

Lessons of Anime--How to Cope with Japan's Tragedy

By Andrew Lam, Mar 11, 2012 11:13 AM

It's been a year since the tsunami and earthquake created havoc and destroyed part of the Japanese coast and set the nuclear reactor in Fukushima to burn uncontrollably. This piece, written last year, is reposted here as it remains relevant.

Andrew Lam

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In Japan’s most popular cultural genres known as manga (comic books) and anime (animation films and series), there’s a recurrent theme in which the country is routinely devastated. 
 
Tokyo, home to more than 30 million people, is destroyed so often in the Japanese collective imagination there’s an alternative version of the ultramodern mega-metropolis: one made of shattered concrete and glass debris.
 
Take the popular animated film Akira, for example. “Tokyo is destroyed by an apparent nuclear explosion, leading to the start of World War III.” So goes Wikipedia’s note on the world-famous manga series turned anime. 
 
Wikipedia goes on, “Thirty-one years after Tokyo's destruction, Neo-Tokyo, a new metropolis built on an artificial island in Tokyo Bay, is gripped by political strife, anti-government terrorism and gang violence.”
 
Or take Desert Punk: “After a global nuclear catastrophe Japan has been reduced to a desert and the surviving humans seek out a meager living in the hot sands,” goes the description of the anime series.
 
“A devastating war fought between two major nations with ultra-magnetic weapons far greater than anything seen earlier brings about total chaos and destruction throughout the world, resulting in several earthquakes and tidal waves,” begins the plot description of the anime Future Boy Conan, in which humanity is on the brink of extinction. 
 
The examples are endless, but you see the point: Nihilistic themes dominate Japanese narratives of itself. 
 
Now try this scenario: Japan has fallen apart. Its towns and villages devastated by such a massive earthquake that the earth’s axis itself is affected and by the subsequent tsunami, its nuclear reactors exposed, sending radiation into the atmosphere. Millions live without water and electricity. Millions more live in panic and fear as the tremors continue and radiation leaks into food and water and land. 
 
Japan is facing a crisis it hasn’t seen since World War II.
 
This, alas, is no scenario at all, but a reality. So, what purposes do these apocalyptic stories serve? And how does one watch these animes, now that their visions have become prophetically superimposed on the real world?
 
I write this as someone who was born into a world devastated by war. As a South Vietnamese soldier’s son – an army brat -- I witnessed much destruction and suffering at a very young age. I saw dead bodies strewn about in rice fields, burned out villages, maimed survivors, homeless refugees trudging along highways, and many begging on the streets of Saigon. 
 
As a teenager in America, I was enthralled by Bugs Bunny and Disney movies showing children laughing. In this world, evil is always conquered. The princess marries the prince, and everyone is guaranteed a happy ending. That is, I bought into the American optimism, bought my own ticket on the little train that could.
 
Now, however, as an adult, as a seasoned journalist who has witnessed tragedy after tragedy around the world, I find myself drawn back to the Far East, and increasingly drawn to Japanese manga and anime. I watch them religiously in middle age.
 
Why? Because many of these stories, albeit far more complex and enticing, are similar to the folktales my Vietnamese grandmother told. On those frightful nights when the bombs fell in villages and their reverberations shook the city, Grandma’s ancient stories with their ambiguous if flat-out unhappy endings were strangely soothing.
 
The princess died and her heart turns into a ruby, which was then carved into a teacup. The fisherman, her true love, came back and cried and his tear fell in the cup, which melted into blood.
 
Or she’d tell of a younger brother, who gave up his love for a beautiful woman so that his older one could marry her. The younger man went to the forest and died, turning into a betel tree. Then the older brother searched for him, died and turned into a limestone. The wife followed, and sat leaning on the tree, when she turned into a vine. When chewing betel nut together with the vine leaf and limestone, your spit will turn into the color of blood.
 
A few years ago in Japan, I interviewed professor Koike Kazuo, the celebrated author of the Lone Wolf and Cub manga series. It is the story of a samurai who walked the path of death while pushing a small cart in which sat his little boy. Their entire clan had been massacred. 
 
The boy watches undaunted as his father stabs and slices their enemies. In the final episode, the boy’s father is killed by their ultimate nemesis, an old man who has masterminded their clan’s destruction. Undaunted, the little boy picks up his father’s spear and rushes to drive it through the old man, who, recognizing the boy’s samurai spirit, embraced him in death, calling him “Grandson of my heart.”
 
I asked Kazuo sensei why such a tragic ending would be considered children’s entertainment. He thought about this for a while before answering, “On the deepest level, serious mangas are about spiritual drama and love.”
 
This struck a chord in me. Despite the age of high-tech wizardry, manga/anime continue to distill an ancient ethos of the Far East; a shared cultural matrix between Japan and East Asia, in which fatalism informs the floating world. It teaches that life is precious, and spending time serving the greater good may be the only control one has in the face of unpredictable calamity and uncontrollable and often violent cosmos. 
 
When one lives life for the sake of others by protecting what one considers precious, then one will achieve his human/spiritual truth regardless of the outcome. 
 
Indeed, if American fairy tales are in the business of protecting children from the reality of a cold and belligerent world, Japanese fairy tales told through certain genre of mangas and animes are doing quite the opposite: preparing their charges for the day in which their normal and seemingly sunny life may be abruptly thrown into complete chaos and destruction. Thus, hidden behind those round eyed and perfect-faced cartoon characters are stories of human sufferings and survival rivaling the tragedy of Job.
 
No wonder these Japanese genres are rivaling the church of Disney, and anime continues to enthrall children and young adults across the globe. It is in part because they don’t belittle their viewers but treat them as adults to be.
 
Now, as I watch in horror the story of Japan in the aftermath of the huge earthquake and devastating tsunami, I see their points more clearly. My grandmother’s old fairy tales, with their countless wars and natural disasters, evolved over the millennia and merge with anime as warning, as an admonitory mythos, and as a way to prepare the next generation for cataclysm and grief.
 
Here’s another inspirational and true story with anime sensibility. The story, which has been widely distributed on the Internet and global media, is told by an immigrant in Fukushima, where the nuclear reactors continue to send radiation out of their broken roofs and walls.
 
A nine-year-old boy watched as the tsunami swept away his father from the balcony of his school. His sister and mother, too, were presumably swept away with their house near the beach. Yet, despite such losses, when given a bag of food, he went to the front of the food line and gave it back to the food distributors. He told the astonished man who gave him the food to nourish himself, “I see a lot more people hungrier than I am. If I put it there, then they will distribute the food equally.” 
 
The adult who told this story wept, “Who knew a boy in the third grade could teach me a lesson on how to be a human being at a time of such great suffering?” The boy, having no superpower, having lost his family, nevertheless becomes a kind of anime hero, someone who sacrifices for the greater good and achieves human truth.
 
A year after the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City were destroyed by terrorist attacks, I visited Ground Zero. There were many visitors and gawkers about, and next to me were a few teenagers with their charming Midwest accents, snapping photos. As they surveyed the terrible destruction before them – shattered concrete and melted steel of what was once an ivory citadel -- one of them said, with reverence in his voice, “Man, this is, like, right out of Akira!” 
 
I watch anime nightly along with news of Japan’s unfolding devastation, and the story lines ring truer now. In this post 9/11 world, where war drones fly and preemptive strikes and revolutions are the norm, where ominous storms keep gathering and growing stronger -- if not at our shores then in our collective unconsciousness – and where the earth keeps trembling, it may very well be that those apocalyptic narratives are the very medicine that could assist us all. Adults and children alike, in Japan and elsewhere, now bear witness to the churning tides.
 

New America Media editor Andrew Lam is the author of East Eats West (Heyday Books, 2011), his new collection of 21 essays. His previous book, Perfume Dreams: Reflections on the Vietnamese Diaspora won a Pen American award in 2006. 
 
Listen to his radio commentary here.

Jacob Simas

CA Youth Document Launch of Lady Gaga's New Foundation

By Jacob Simas, Mar 6, 2012 12:03 PM


Last week, Lady Gaga launched her new Born This Way Foundation with a massive kickoff at Harvard University in Cambridge. A number of celebrities turned up for the pop star’s big event -- Oprah Winfrey was on hand, so you know this was big – and hundreds of youth leaders were assembled from across the county, including four youth reporters from California representing New America Media.

The foundation, led by Lady Gaga and her mother Cynthia Germanotta, was created last year with the objective “to foster a more accepting society, where differences are embraced and individuality is celebrated.” Appearing unexpectedly at a youth forum at Harvard on the day before the actual launch, Gaga described the organization specifically as a “youth empowerment foundation,” drawing loud cheers from the young audience.

“I don’t believe I have the answers,” said Gaga. “I believe you do.” More cheers.

Gaga’s down to earth conversations with the youth and her rationale for wanting to start a foundation – building a more loving and accepting world is part of the foundation’s mission statement – come across as refreshingly straightforward, intelligent and genuine, in a world of celebrity that more often than not emphasizes conformity, consumerism and superficiality.

For an in-depth peek at the events, including written reports, photos, video coverage of Gaga’s speech to the youth delegates and a panel discussion that included Gaga, Oprah, Deepak Chopra and more, you can visit BornBraveCA, a youth-produced blog facilitated by The California Endowment and created to document the experience of California youth attending the launch of the Born This Way Foundation.

New America Media congratulates the four youth reporters who represented our organization so well in Cambridge: Edgardo Cervano-Soto from Richmond Pulse;Tony Aguilar from Coachella Unincorporated; Jaleesa Vickers from The kNOw Youth Media and Luis Pacheco from The kNOw Youth Media.


Michael Barba

"Mi Nombre Es": Chilean TV Features Blackface

By Michael Barba, Dec 1, 2011 9:41 AM


In Chile, the American Idol-like television show “Mi Nombre Es” premiered this October, featuring Las Vegas style performers imitating famous vocalists from Frank Sinatra to Lady Gaga. The show entertains until it crosses comfort zones, mirroring American minstrel shows with contestants pretending to be Barry White and Ray Charles in full blackface.

Peter Schurmann

Palin in Korea: Where's Jon Stewart When You Need Him

By Peter Schurmann, Sep 2, 2011 5:02 PM


Sarah Palin is heading to South Korea to attend… wait for it, let the anticipation linger… the World Knowledge Forum. (Raucous laughter) This is the woman who last year after the shelling of a South Korean island told listeners of the Glen Beck show that we must “Stand with our North Korean allies.”

Andrew Lam

Documentary Commemorates 66th Anniversary of Atomic Bombings

By Andrew Lam, Aug 5, 2011 11:33 PM

San Francisco - On August 6 and 9 of 1945, the U.S. government dropped an atomic bomb each on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and 210,000 Japanese were immediately killed and many more thousands suffered and died from radiation fallout. One man, Tsutomu Yamaguchi, was unlucky enough to have been
in both cities during the bombing and lucky enough to survive both. To commemorate the 66th anniversary of the atomic bombings, New People, the nation’s only entertainment complex dedicated to Japanese popular culture, is hosting a special screening of the 2006 film “Twice Bombed, Twice Survived,” a documentary based on Yamaguchi himself.

According to Rafu Shimpo, Yamaguchi decided to participate in the documentary at age 90 in hopes
that it would help the movement to abolish nuclear weapons worldwide. Although there are other twice-bombed victims who survived and are featured in the documentary, Yamaguchi was the only person officially recognized by the Japanese government to have survived both explosions. Yamaguchi passed away last year at age 93 after being hospitalized for stomach cancer.

Located at 1746 Post St. in San Francisco, New People will screen the documentary Saturday at 2:00 p.m. Part of the proceeds will go to Friends of Hibakusha, a San Francisco organization dedicated to
supporting Hiroshima and Nagasaki survivors in the United States.

Andrew Lam is author of "Perfume Dreams: Reflections on the Vietnamese Diaspora" and "East Eats West: Writing in Two Hemispheres."

Andrew Lam

Afghanistan Can't Wash Away Vietnam: Obama & the Ghosts of War

By Andrew Lam, May 30, 2011 6:15 PM

New America Media's editor, Andrew Lam, reads from "New California Writing" - An anthology of writing from Californian writers by Heyday Books. He is the author of "East Eats West: Writing in Two Hemispheres" and "Perfume Dreams: Reflections on the Vietnamese Diaspora."

This video is produced and filmed by Steven Chiem.

Eming Piansay

The Chick Flick Comedy Diaspora

By Eming Piansay, May 17, 2011 2:52 PM

When the first wave of teaser trailers for Judd Apatow’s Bridesmaids hit the airwaves offering the world a female version to the hilarious, drug induced Hang Over series all I could think was: finally!

Finally, Hollywood got with the program that women have a raunchy side that doesn’t necessary include getting in touch with our emotions 24/7 or running around in airbrushed leather outfits.

Andrew Lam

YouTube Co-Founder Honored by Northern California Asia Society

By Andrew Lam, May 3, 2011 11:49 AM

 
Steve Chen, who co-founded YouTube in 2005, is being honored by the Northern California Asia Society in San Francisco May 5 at the Four Seasons. According to Asianweek, Chen is “credited with developing the company’s massive data centers and helping build YouTube into a premier entertainment destination and one of the most popular Web sites on the Internet today.”

Another local Asian-American entrepreneur being honored by the Northern California Asia Society is Dr. Naren Gupta, co-founder and managing director of Nexus Venture Capital and SF Hep B Free. Nexus Venture Capital “invests in innovative companies to serve both the Indian and the global markets,” according to the Asia Society.

SF Hep Free, the Asia Society notes, “has put San Francisco at the forefront of the nation in fighting chronic hepatitis B, a disease that disproportionately affects Asian Pacific Islanders.”

The annual dinner is ASNC’s most prestigious event and largest fundraiser of the year, notes Asian Week, and is attended by more than 350 distinguished guests including leaders in business, academia, the diplomatic corps, and media. Featured speakers of past annual dinners have included Madeleine Albright, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Mayor Gavin Newsom, and Nobel Laureate and Secretary of Energy Steven Chu.

Mayor Ed Lee has been invited as keynote speaker to this year’s dinner.

Sponsorships begin at $5,000. Individual tickets are available for $275. 

Andrew Lam is author of "East Eats West: Writing in Two Hemispheres."

Andrew Lam

First Vietnamese Film Festival in San Francisco

By Andrew Lam, Apr 18, 2011 1:03 PM

 

The San Francisco Diasporic Vietnamese Film Festival is the first-ever Bay Area film festival exclusively featuring Vietnamese filmmakers and performers. Slated for April 23 at the Coppola Theater at San Francisco State University, it features, among many familiar faces for the Vietnamese community, a film by Minh Nguyen, a UC Berkeley alumnus, about a romance between a married car mechanic and a Vietnamese-American manicurist.

The film, called “Touch,” stars artist and actor Long Nguyen, the director's older brother, who is known to movie audiences from films like "When Heaven and Earth Change Places" and " Journey From the
Fall" and TV series CSI New York.

The festival is the brainchild of the Diasporic Vietnamese Artists Netword (DVAN), headed by SF State University associate professor Isabelle Pelaud.

"Since 1975, as a result of the upheavals of conflict, hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese have emigrated from their homelands to other countries, creating a diaspora of Vietnamese people around the globe. This diaspora’s cultural productions are richly articulated and nuanced—and film is no exception," notes Vietnamese American cultural website Diacritics. "Through narrative, documentary, and experimental genres, the San Francisco Diasporic Vietnamese Film Festival will center the filmed
histories, communities, identities, and imaginaries of those in Vietnam and in the diaspora—a transnational vision reflecting a transnational reality."

The all-day festival features 13 films from nine directors in the United States, Australia, Germany, England and Vietnam.

Andrew Lam is author of "
East Eats West: Writing in Two Hemispheres" and "Perfume Dreams: Reflections on the Vietnamese Diaspora." He will be at the film festival to moderate a conversation with actors, Long Nguyen and Bety Le from the movie, Touch after its showing. 

Andrew Lam

Andrew Lam reading from East Eats West: Writing in Two Hemispheres

By Andrew Lam, Apr 4, 2011 1:23 PM

Author Andrew Lam read excerpts from his new book East Eats West and discussed the unexpected consequences of the Vietnamese diaspora. He concentrated not only on how the East and West have changed, but how they are changing each other. Lam is an editor and cofounder of New American Media, an association of over two thousand ethnic media outlets in America. Followed by a film crew back to his homeland, Vietnam, he was featured in the documentary My Journey Home which aired nationwide on PBS in 2004. His book Perfume Dreams: Reflections on the Vietnamese Diaspora won a PEN American Beyond Margins award in 2006.

Andrew Lam

Surrogate Valentine: A Star Making vehicle

By Andrew Lam, Mar 24, 2011 5:19 PM

 
Goh Nakamura, a San Francisco Bay Area based musician who writes ditties about parking tickets, impossible crushes and faraway dreamlands, is getting the attention he finally deserves. In
“Surrogate Valentine,” a movie that closed out the San Francisco Asian American film Festival last week, Nakamura plays himself, a low-key musician “barely scraping by playing live gigs and teaching guitar,” as noted in the movie’s webpage http://surrogatevalentine.com/.

The Asian blog site, 8Asians, raved about the movie.  “The film, which is an augmented reality biopic (making it neither a documentary or complete fiction) about Goh Nakamura features wry writing and well acted dialogue with sly and believable whimsy in a thoughtfully pieced story,” notes 8Asian.

What also turns 8 Asians on is the “smart acting with extraordinary comic timing, great use of black and white film, superb sound editing, plus a list of credits and cameos that highlights a lot of great artists within the Asian American community including Scrabbel, Invisible Cities, Brian Fukushima, and Derek Kirk Kim.”

Indeed, if the buzz and raves are anything to go by, it is doubtful that Nakamura will really play himself in the sequel, which is already in the work. He’ll be a star playing a humbler version of himself.


Andrew Lam is author of East Eats West: Writing in Two Hemispheres.






Aruna Lee

Did Lady Gaga Rip Off a Korean Girl Band? Hear for Yourself!

By Aruna Lee, Mar 23, 2011 9:16 PM

Lady Gaga, who graced the stage at Oakland's Oracle Coliseum Tuesday night, has been catching flak from bloggers in Korea over accusations that the pop diva stole the music for her latest hit "Born This Way" from the Korean girl band Girls’ Generation.

Aruna Lee

Korea's Director's Latest Film "Embarrassing"

By Aruna Lee, Mar 22, 2011 1:45 PM

Korean director Hyung-rae Shim made his first foray into American cinema with the disastrously un-entertaining D-War. He’s now looking to build on past mistakes with a new comedy called The Last Godfather, about a mafia boss played by Harvey Keitel who tries to train his mentally impaired son to be his successor.

Andrew Lam

We're Not Alone in the Universe, So it seems

By Andrew Lam, Feb 10, 2011 10:35 AM

 For as long as man has been gazing up to the heavens we have been, in away, searching for reflections ourselves. And increasingly, it seems, we are finding more and more evidence that say we are not alone.

UFOs and earthlike planets are in the news. The Kepler, NASA's space based telescope launched just two years ago, has found some serious possibilities for potential life out there. So far it found 1,235 planets orbiting nearby stars. But more tantalizing, it has found 54 planets in habitable zones –atmospheres and liquid water and - conditions that may support life. "It's very likely that life is common in our galaxy," said the chief scientist of the Kepler mission, William Borucki.

Meanwhile, UFOs are being spotted practically every week, and with the advent of portable cameras they can been seen. Whether many are hoaxes remain to be seen but these videos become viral on the internet. In Utah last week, witnesses saw a ufo – three red dots of light in a triangle shape - dropping bright lights. At the same time, a bright round spot of light could be seen hovering over the dome of rock Jerusalem. Four videos captured it and millions have viewed them on youtube. While some claim them to be hoaxes, Many are believers.

It may sound hokey in the past, but increasingly more and more people believe in extraterrestrial life. A Scripps Howard News Service poll in 2008 says that a whopping 56 percent Americans believe “very likely or somewhat likely that intelligent life exists on other worlds.”

“One in every 12 Americans has seen a mysterious object in the sky that might have been a visitor from another world,” According to the poll, conducted with Ohio Univeristy, “while nearly one in every five personally knows someone who has seen an unidentified flying object.”

Indeed, a radical shift in human psyche regarding our relationship with the rest of universe is taking place. Not so long ago, until Copernicus came along, we assumed our world was the universe's center -- and, for that matter, flat -- and that the sun orbited Earth. Last century we held on to the notion that our solar system was unique. Scientists just a generation ago assumed, too, that conditions on Earth -- a protective atmosphere, ample water and volcanic activity -- made it the only planet that could possibly support life.

That sense of self-importance has given way to a more humble assessment of our place in space. The conditions on our home planet may be unique, but solar systems are not at all anomalies. We are in the process of accepting that we are very much part of the larger universe.

Furthermore, by sending space probes to the edge of the solar system, by collecting moon rocks and comet dust, by landing probes on Mars to dig for soils and search for signs of life, and by planning manned missions to Mars, we are in constant exchange with the universe.

Consider these astonishing discoveries made in the past decade or two.

Using the Hubble Telescope to study Earth's atmosphere, astronomer Lou Frank proved that Earth is constantly hit by snowballs from space. The implications are enormous: If snowballs from outer space hit Earth regularly, it is raining elsewhere onto other planets, providing much-needed water for the primordial soup.

The two rovers found ice on Mars. If there's ice on Mars, the probability of ice on other planets has grown exponentially as well.

And then, in 2009 , we found water on the moon.

A quarter of century ago, a meteorite from Mars found on Earth, known as the Allan Hills meteorite (or ALH 84001 to scientists), astonished everyone when some scientists claimed they found tantalizing traces of fossilized life within it. Their findings have been contested, but the meteorite renewed enthusiasm for the idea of "panspermia."

The interstellar exchange of DNA was a theory championed by Francis Crick, who discovered the DNA molecule with two other scientists in the last century. If scientists laughed behind the Nobel laureate's back when he first suggested it, no one is laughing now.

Besides, there is such a thing as self-fulfilling prophecy: If Earth didn't receive DNA for a startup way back when, we are now actively sending out DNA through space with our spacecrafts and satellites and shuttles.

And what do scientists find when they analyze the comet dust collected by space probes? Organic materials, rich in biogenic materials with great varieties of organic molecules.

Roland Robertson, a social scientist, defines globalization as "the compression of the world and the intensification of consciousness of the world as a whole."

Taking Robertson's definition a step further, it seems inevitable that the universe, too, shrinks and compresses as we explore and measure it, and infer profound implications from our discoveries.

Perhaps it is why so many of us have changed our mind: We are not alone in the universe. Earth maybe unique, but only in the sense that every human being is unique. It’s harder, after to all, to claim the role of sole inheritor’s of god’s grace in a vast universe abundant with water and organic materials and planets with atmospheres orbiting stars like our own sun.

War and strife and revolutions and bloodshed seem endless on our little blue planet, but when man gazes up to the heavens it remains sublime. To paraphrase the great mythologist, Joseph Campbell, that sea on which humanity now sails is infinitely more vast than that imagined by Columbus. And the cosmic age, no doubt about it, has arrived.



Andrew Lam is author of
East Eats West: Writing in Two Hemispheres. 

Rene Ciria-Cruz

Cockfighting Bust in Napa County

By Rene Ciria-Cruz, Aug 10, 2010 3:00 PM

Feathers flew as sheriff's deputies and police officers arrested dozens of cockfighting aficionados in the Napa County city of American Canyon recently, reports the FilAmStar.net's Ed Yra (http://filamstar.net/index.php?id=2228). The raiding party swooped down on some 60 people who were watching a cockfight in progress.

Cockfighting, a popular pastime in the Philippines, is illegal in the United States. It pits specially bred and raised birds fitted with sharp spurs in a deadly duel while spectators place bets. Some Filipino Americans were among those cited.

Several men escaped but 32 were arrested, cited with misdemeanors and released. They could face fines of up to $5,000, one year in jail, or probation. Some had come from as far away as San Jose and Pittsburg.

Officers found two dead roosters and 50 live birds in the area. Yra reports that pens specifically built to house fighting roosters are easily visible to passersby in parts of American Canyon.

Kevin Weston

Freestyle Fellowship -- Return of the Kings

By Kevin Weston, Jul 30, 2010 3:30 PM

One of my favorite Hip Hop groups from the 90's is back on tour and I can't wait until these kings of LA rap come to Oakland. Freestyle Fellowship set trends and styles in Hip Hop that have influenced a generation of MC's. Welcome back fellas.

Elena Shore

Five Songs Against Arizona

By Elena Shore, Jun 23, 2010 9:00 AM

A new kind of protest music is springing up in reaction to Arizona’s controversial new immigration law SB 1070, which makes it a crime to be undocumented. From corridos (narrative Mexican ballads) to hip-hop, artists are voicing their opposition to the law through music.

The Alto Arizona Campaign is holding a contest for original corridos against the Arizona law. Shakira visited Phoenix to speak out against the law. Rage Against the Machine, Kanye West and Sonic Youth are among a group of artists has joined a “sound strike,” refusing to perform in the state. There's a Facebook drive to get 1 million people to support a concert against the Arizona law. And Carlos Santana, Maná and Willie Nelson are among the artists currently recording songs in protest of the law.

Here's a sampling of five of the songs, from a corrido to hip-hop, that have been inspired by SB 1070.

1. Los Cenzontles: Estado de Verguenza
(a corrido written by Eugene Rodriguez)
"Arizona, state of shame, what have you done with your fear?
Instead of being known for your beauty, you are now famous for racism and hatred."

2. Back to AZ (Anti-1070)
(Hip-Hop artists in Arizona featuring DJ John Blaze, Tajji Sharp, Yung Face, Mr. Miranda, Ocean, Da'aron Anthony, Atllas, Chino D, Nyhtee, Pennywise, Rich Rico, and Da Beast)
"Today it appears much hasn't changed
They dress a little different but they act just the same
It's an all-out war on all with a brown face...
1070 is code for hate
We're still being oppressed in this day and age"

3. Talib Kweli: Papers Please
(written and performed by Talib Kweli)
"The same mentality that put blacks in graves
That leads to the 'master race'
is making Arizona a battle state"

4. Mexia: Todos Somos Arizona
(written by Mexia, son of Los Tigres Del Norte co-founder Hernan Hernandez)
"There's something wrong with that picture there
No lo puedo creer, no lo puedo ver, tu forma de ser es lo de ayer
And we’re Latinos on the rise like blood pressure yeah, trying to control us with fear.”

5. Louie Cruz Beltran: By the Time I Sneak Outta Phoenix
(a parody of the Glen Campbell song "By the Time I Get to Phoenix")
"Governor Jan can't you hear the voice of Ronald Reagan
When he said now it's time to tear down this wall?
Obama, don't just stand there, you've got to do, do something
Even Schwarzenegger, even he is appalled."


Kevin Weston

It Ain't My Fault -- Hip Hop vs BP

By Kevin Weston, Jun 18, 2010 11:37 AM

The CEO of BP must be a Hip Hop fan. Continue reading »

Andrew Lam

World Cup a Boon for Vietnamese Cafés

By Andrew Lam, Jun 17, 2010 12:10 AM

 Vietnam is not competing in the World Cup, but that doesn't change Vietnamese-Americans' passion for soccer. Nguoi Viet, the Vietnamese-language newspaper based in Orange County (where the largest Vietnamese population outside of Vietnam resides) even sent a reporter to South Africa to cover the World Cup. In San Jose, home to the second-largest Vietnamese population in the United States, the World Cup has been a boon for local Vietnamese bars and coffee shops.

Calitoday reports that M Cafe, a Vietnamese bar and coffeeshop in San Jose, has gotten so crowded during games that the owners put up an extra tent to accommodate customers.

Of particular interest to the Vietnamese-American fans was, of course, the U.S. team, which tied with England 1-1 over the weekend. But Germany and Australia also drew a lot of viewers. Nam Nguyen, Calitoday's publisher and editor, said that for the next 30 days, "the economy in San Jose as far as the Vietnamese coffee shops and bars are concerned is going to boom. If anything, Vietnamese coffee shop and bar owners are predicting the volume of customers to increase beyond capacity as the matches draw to a conclusion."

The problem will come once the last goal is scored. The tents will be rolled up, and the economic recession will, alas, likely return.

Nadia Prupis

CBS, WTF?

By Nadia Prupis, Feb 4, 2010 9:58 PM

In 2004, CBS rejected would-be Superbowl Sunday ads from the United Church of Christ, with a message of tolerance, and from MoveOn.org, with a criticism of then-President George W. Bush. At the time, the network claimed that its policies prohibit “advocacy ads.”

In 2010, CBS changed its anti-advocacy policy just in time to accept a Super Bowl Sunday ad from the conservative Christian group Focus on the Family, with an overtly pro-life message, featuring Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow on the one day this year that renders him conveniently and undeniably relevant.

Although it hasn't aired yet, the 30-second commercial is said to feature Tim Tebow and his mother Pam, as she explains her choice—notice the keyword—not to end her difficult pregnancy in 1987, despite her doctor's advice. Today her son is a healthy, talented, award-winning athlete. And that's truly a happy ending for them.

For them.

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