There’s been a blizzard of emails flying around town from groups and individuals, outraged postings (including mine as well as Joe Nguyen’s commentary on AsiaXpress), and TV and print media news reports.
A collective of APA students who’ve organized a Facebook group called Colorado Asian American Organizations organized a meeting yesterday at Denver University, where about 40 people showed up. Erin attended, and also sent out notices to some of the local media, so there were TV crews from several stations on hand to cover the discussion. Attendees included not just students, but community activists, older APAs and also African Americans and Latinos. Continue reading →
I’m always amazed at how young “journalists” can write really stupid stuff and then hide behind the cloak of “satire” to defend themselves. That’s what happened this week, when the University of Colorado’s amateur student news site, CampusPress.com, ran a commentary by Max Karson titled “If it’s war the Asians want… it’s war they’ll get.”
It’s not very well written. It’s self indulgent in an immature, self-possessed manner. It’s confusingly filled with hate language and alarming statements for much of the column, then it veers into surrealism, and suddenly, if you weren’t sure whether it’s supposed to be a joke (I wasn’t), you start to realize it’s not serious. The problem is, so much of it sounds serious, and feels serious, and perpetuates racist stereotypes and statements about Asians that I’ve heard all my life. So why wouldn’t I take it seriously? Continue reading →
Hot stuff: Orochon Ramen lets you choose your level of heat. I opted for #3 and it was pretty damned warm.
When Erin and I were in LA last month, we ate dinner with her cousin Lisa Sasaki and her brother Eric and his wife Leah, at a very popular ramen shop, Daikokuya. The restaurant is one of several that specialize in Ramen on a block of First Street in Little Tokyo, just down the street from the Japanese American National Museum. The joint is hopping at all hours, with eager clusters of (mostly non-Japanese) people patiently waiting to enter, thanks to a couple of rave reviews including one from the restaurant critic from the LA Times, whose article is posted in the window. Luckily, we didn’t have to wait too long to be seated.
Lisa loves the combination specials: choose a ramen, and get a half-order of another entree, from tonkatsu pork cutlets and gyoza dumplings to fried rice. The fried rice was good, all right. Erin and I both thought the ramen itself (we ordered the chasyu ramen, topped with slices barbecued pork loin) was good but not awe-inspiring. The place was so popular and raucous, though, that it was simply a fun experience. Continue reading →
Erin and I went out to eat tonight at Thai Basil, a very popular restaurant in southeast Denver. We had eaten there a couple of weeks ago with friends and enjoyed the food, so we decided to give it a shot on our own. The food was fine once again — we had chicken coconut soup for starters, and Thai curry lime beef and sesame tofu for entrees.
But during the meal, it occurred to us that aside from one woman at a nearby table, we were the only Asians dining in the packed room. The servers were mostly Asian, but on the way in this time, I noted that the owner and much of the staff is Chinese, not Thai. These observations maybe are unimportant if the food is great, but I started wondering about the importance of authenticity in ethnic cuisine.
First of all, does it matter what ethnicity the staff, owners and even maybe the chefs are, if they can make great Thai food, or Chinese, or Japanese or Korean? Shouldn’t the end quality of the food be the measure of a restaurant’s quality? Yes. And… I’ve had various ethnic cuisines served up by people not of the ethnicity and had the food fail the taste test. Even years ago in New York City, when I was in college, I was so desperate for Mexican food that I went into a Mexican restaurant in Greenwich Village, only to be served enchiladas with spaghetti sauce — no lie — poured over them. That’s why that Pace Picante tagline works so well: “…from where? NEW YORK CITY?” Continue reading →
When Erin and I traveled to Hawai’i last September, we spent several days at the home of my cousin Laura McHugh and her husband John, in Mililani, northwest of Honolulu. I didn’t write abut it at the time, but one of the coolest things about our stay was that John is a music fan who shares a lot of the same interests as me and my rock-critic friends. I found a stash of CDs I promptly had to put on my iPod, including a bunch of John Hiatt, and some gems I hadn’t even thought of in decades, like Green on Red, a late ’80s alt-rock group I had seen at the Mercury Cafe that I had once compared to Neil Young and Crazy Horse.
Anyway, it’s taken me months to pay John back, but I’ve burned him some of my favorite music. These CDs contain sounds that sustain me, surprises me and makes me smile when it comes up in my iPod, which is always set to shuffle through all my music.
Various Artists Bleecker Street: Greenwich Village In The 60’s
To a fan of folk and folk-rock music like me, this is a rare, and little-known, treasure. It came out a few years ago and I came across it at a Borders bookstore. Itâ€™s a compilation of â€˜60s urban folk-era remade by contemporary singer-songwriters, and though some of the covers are reverential and dry, some are really fresh takes on these songs, all of which Iâ€™ve known for decades. My favorites include Jonatha Brookesâ€™ crystalline, haunting take of Paul Simonâ€™s haunting â€œBleecker Street,â€ the tribute to the first folk eraâ€™s ground zero in Greenwich Village, from Simon and Garfunkelâ€™s debut album. Another favorite is Loudon Wainwright III and Iris DeMentâ€™s rollicking â€œPack Up Your Sorrows,â€ which led me back to Richard and Mimi Farinaâ€™s greatest hits album, where the original still glows, and Cry Cry Cryâ€™s beautiful version of Tom Paxtonâ€™s deeply moving â€œLast Thing on My Mind.â€ Droll baritone folkie John Gorka tackles Eric Andersenâ€™s â€œThirsty Boots,â€ John Cale and Suzanne Vega (!) wrap themselves around Leonard Cohenâ€™s â€So Log Marianneâ€ and Larry Kirwan of the NYC Irish rockers Black 47 revs up Phil Ochâ€™s still-relevant anti-war rant, â€œI Ainâ€™t Marchinâ€™ Anymore.â€ Yeah, I like everything on the disc, and Iâ€™ve turned many souls onto this disc. Continue reading →