Go where the hipsters go: Privy 5 city guides are all about Asian & Asian American celebs & playas’ Top 5 lists

privy 5 la

Here’s a cool Asian/Asian American spin on the ubiquitous city guides concept, if you live in LA or some select other cities around the globe. Privy 5 is a startup that’s launching a series of city-focused websites that invites celebrities and local playas to submit their Top 5 lists in categories such as restaurants, hotels, bars, karaoke/noraebang, shops and spas, and also allows normal folk like us to comment and vote a la Yelp.

For the recently launched Los Angeles Privy 5 city guide, you’ll find lists of faves from a pretty interesting array of movers and shakers, including Lisa Ling, Justin Chon, Daniel Wu, Kelly Hu, John Cho, Russell Wong, Archie Kao, Jeannie Mai, Jaeson Ma, Beau Sia and more.

Here’s Kelly Hu‘s list of favorite restaurants, for instance.

Some of the directory portion of the ste looks like it’s still a work in progress, with few listings and lotsa businesses yet to be added. But you get the idea. The Privy 5 team also has a guide up and running for Shanghai with other major cities to come: Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City, Tokyo, New York, London, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Seoul, Taipei, etc.

Uh, don’t see Denver on the list but that’s understandable, I guess. We’re not exactly a magnet for AAPI A-List types.

Next time I get to La-La Land, though, I’ll check in with Privy 5 LA and dine somewhere that’s on Lynne Chen’s list. She’s one celeb I’d love to meet!

Short documentary video about Hawai’i’s Japanese American internment camp, forgotten over the decades

Most history books mention only the mainland internment camps, relocation centers and Justice Department camps if they mention the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II at all. It’s often stated that people of Japanese descent in Hawai’i weren’t rounded up and imprisoned — or that only a few were arrested, and then sent to mainland camps — because there are so many Japanese in Hawai’i that if they did that, the territory’s economy would shut down (Hawai’i didn’t become a state until 1959).

But there was an internment camp right on Oahu, not far from the capital, Honolulu, on rugged land that’s now owned by Monsanto. They didn’t lock up all Japanese Americans like they did on the West Coast. And they didn’t imprison entire families. They focused on community leaders, but still held thousands in Honouliuli, the prison camp.

The Japanese Community Center of Hawai’i has captured some of this long-forgotten history in this short documentary. I hope they do more. Next time we get to Hawai’i, we’ll return to the JCCH to see if they have an exhibit or other material about the topic. Brian Niiya, the Director of Program & Development at the JCCH told us about the early states of their research several years ago when we first visited the JCCH, so I’m glad to see they got this video done.

Even though Japanese Americans in Hawai’i are anything but the invisible minority that we are on the mainland, their history needs to be highlighted and preserved just as it needs to be documented here.

(From HolyKaw on Alltop.com)

(Cross-posted on gilasakawa.posterous.com)

Minneapolis hosts an Asian Film Festival this week

The Girl in yellow Bootsis the opening night film of the Minn/St Paul Asian film Festival

The Denver area used to have an Asian Film Festival held in Aurora; Erin and I loved attending it. It attracted a loyal core audience of film lovers of all ethnicities. But our Asian communities didn’t support the festival as much as they needed to.

Unfortunately, the programming was too cautious, because the Denver Film Society, the folks who bring us the annual Starz Denver Film Festival (which starts this week), had to get approval from various groups. And, the various groups would turn down any movie that might show their homeland in a light they didn’t like (such as showing sex and violence, or a negative image of the country). During the festival, each community attended their movies but didn’t show much interest in movies from other countries.

Erin and I would see Japanese at the Japanese movies but not Chinese, or Filipino, or Vietnamese movies. We’d run into Chinese friends at Chinese movies, and so on. In the end, the festival couldn’t generate enough interest across all Asian communities, in addition to non-Asian movie fans, to keep going.

So I watch wistfully as I get emails and Facebook event invites or a plethora of Asian and Asian American Pacific Islander film festival across the country — Philadelphia, New York, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco. Tonight I got an email from a blogging pal, Slanty of Slant Eye for the Round Eye, about the first-ever Asian Film Festival in his hometown of Minneapolis/St. Paul. So even the Twin Cities, land of chill and Prince and the Replacements and Prairie Home Companion, land of a significant Hmong community, and land of Slanty (who wrote about the festival last week), has an Asian film festival.

The Minneapolis-St. Paul Asian Film Festival, which has the tagline “In Search of Asia,” opens tomorrow with “That Girl In Yellow Boots,” an Indian film (photo above). Here’s a description:
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Reiko Rizzuto’s “Hiroshima in the Morning” is a powerful memoir

Rahna Reiko Rizzuto, author of the new memoir "Hiroshima in the Morning."The media are reporting on how Muslim Americans are braced for attacks this weekend, because of the 9/11 anniversary. I know what that’s like, unfortunately, though not on the scale of violence and hatred Muslims are facing today.

It’s a sad commentary on the state of American “patriotism” that Japanese Americans still get nervous every December 7 because we grew up with racial slurs of “go home, Japs” and “Remember Pearl Harbor!”

Such are the deep emotional scars that form after a national trauma, and ethnicity and religion add layers of fear and complexity. It’s understandable in a way, but also unjust — Japanese Americans had nothing to do with Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor any more than German Americans had to do with the blitzkrieg of London. And Muslim Americans certainly had nothing to do with the awful attacks of 9/11. It’s too bad that so many Americans can’t understand such a basic fact and separate nationality from ethnicity, faith from fanaticism.

These schisms are bouncing around my head along with the powerful writing of author Rahna Reiko Rizzuto, whose terrific second book, “Hiroshima in the Morning” has just been published by the Feminist Press.

The book on its surface is a simple idea: A memoir of Rizzuto’s 2001 trip to Japan, paid for by a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts to research the stories of Hiroshima bomb survivors, a group that shrinks each year as the generation passes away, in the city where her own family roots are planted. Rizzuto lived there for eight months to find people to interview, so she could write her second novel.

Instead, she came out of the experience with her life changed profoundly, and this memoir came first before the novel, which is finished but incubating a bit before she sends it to editors under the name “Shadow Child.”

Until the novel comes out, readers can devour “Hiroshima in the Morning” and marvel at Rizzuto’s craft and literary approach to telling non-fiction stories, as well as her brave willingness to expose the emotional evolution she undertakes by the end of her fellowship.

Her ability to write literature as if it were non-fiction is what set Rizzuto’s first novel, “Why She Left Us,” which won the American Book Award upon its release in 2001, apart from other books based on the Japanese American internment.

Rahna Reiko RizzutoRizzuto, who is half-Japanese, based that first book in part on her mother’s experience of being interned at Camp Amache in Colorado during World War II. But she interviewed many former internees to collect observations, details, relationships, experiences and story lines that she wove together into fiction that rang with the power of truth.

She wrote the novel in the different perspectives and voices of its main characters, and jumped through time and space in ways that masterfully held the reader on track, following the devastating legacy of internment on generations of one family. It was unorthodox, artsy and literary, and a riveting read.

I look forward to seeing how she uses the research in Hiroshima as fuel for her fiction, especially after reading “Hiroshima in the Morning.”

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visualizAsian’s back! Meet Roxana Saberi, journalist & author of “Between Two Worlds”

roxana saberiErin and I took a summer hiatus, but visualizAsian.com is back, and proud to kick off a new season of interviews with a conversation with Iranian-Japanese American journalist Roxana Saberi, whose recent book, “Between Two Worlds,” chronicles the harrowing experience of being imprisoned, charged with espionage and sentenced to eight years in a notorious Iranian prison before being released after five months in May 2009.

We’ll be talking to Roxana on Tuesday, August 31 at 6 pm PT (9 pm ET) via phone and web —You’ve missed the live interview, but for a limited time, you can still join in the conversation by registering and listening to the archived MP3 recording..

Roxana recently spoke about her ordeal at the annual convention of the Asian American Journalists Association, and I sat in on the panel.

She captivated the audience with her story of choosing to be a journalist in a dangerous political hotspot, of her unexpected capture and fear and frustration at her situation, the flashes of humane treatment she received from some of her guards, and even the humorous moments (in hindsight) over her efforts to give surreptitious messages to her boyfriend and family.

She captures all of this and more in compelling prose in “Between Two World,” and she’ll be reading passages from it during our conversation.

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