Gil Asakawa's Nikkei View | asian american
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GodzillaI finally saw Peter Jackson's 2005 remake of "King Kong," and I'm afraid I was underwhelmed. It was corny, and overly long and not engaging, even when the excitement factor revved up for the final third of the film. It reminded me that although Hollywood has been making monster movies since the original 1933 "King Kong," the monster with the most staying power and screen incarnations -- over two dozen movies -- didn't come out of California, but from Tokyo.

Photo_090906_012.jpgOne great thing about living in the New York area is the simple fact of its diverse population. I've been shopping regularly at various Asian markets in the area -- a Japanese grocery store in Manhattan; the huge Japanese supermarket, Mitsuwa, in northern Jersey; the Korean Han Ah Reum (better known as H-Mart) -- and buying everything from eggs and orange juice to Asian staples like rice, packaged ramen and a variety of unique Asian snacks and junk food. Here in Jersey City's Journal Square area, there's a concentration of Indians and Pakistanis and a two-block stretch of nothing but Indian groceries and restaurants along Newark Avenue. Today, I explored the neighborhood around Journal Square and discovered to my delight that on another stretch of Newark Avenue, there are a number of Filipino businesses.

Daniel Dae KimThe Washington Post ran this fascinating story today, about the ascendence of all things Korean, especially (South) Korean men, in the world pop culture, especially Asia, and double-especially in Japan. The irony is that Koreans for a century have been treated with racist disdain in Japan, and the country still hasn't officially acknowledged atrocities committed throughout Asia before and during World War II, including its use of Koreans as "comfort women."

phyllisheitjan.jpgOne of the most satisfying aspects of the Colorado Dragon Boat Festival, the annual Asian community event that I've been involved in since its debut in 2001, is the mix of traditional Asian and Pacific Islander culture on display along with the new, Asian American values and ideas. That mix is most evident not in the festival athletic competition or the marketplace, where 90+ vendors sell their wares, but on the Performing Arts Stage. In recent years, some of my favorite performances have been by APIA artists playing contemporary music: Chinese-Filipino Wendy Woo, a popular Colorado singer-songwriter and guitarist, with her Woo Crew rock band; Dwight Mark, a Chinese American multi-instrumentalist mining everything from blues to bluegrass for his original music; and this year for the first time, Korean American singer-sonwgriter Phyllis Heitjan from Philadelphia.

How sad that Andrew Young, a man I (and many others) have admired and thought of as a civil rights leader, reveals that deep-down inside he harbors racist feelings toward other minority communities. The former Mayor of Atlanta and U.S. representative to the U.N. is African American.

An interesting recent AP story raised the issue of what kinds of affectionate nicknames people use for grandparents. In Japanese, the words are "Obaasan" for grandmother and "Ojiisan" for grandfather, and many Japanese Americans still use the terms even if they don't speak much if any Japanese. But I have a confession to make. I didn't have an affectionate nickname for my grandmother.

Candle_during_processionLast night I attended the tail end of an all-day event in Manhattan, and was glad I did. The event was a cross-denominational commemoration of Universal Peace Day, to mark the Aug. 6 anniversay of the bombing of Hiroshima in 1945 with an atomic bomb, and Nagasaki three days later with a second atomic bomb. The event started early in the day with speeches and music (Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary was the most notable performer) at Riverside Park, but it went well into the night, so I didn't feel I missed anything. Besides, I got to the New York Buddhist Church on 105th and Riverside Drive in time for the Candlelight March to Riverside Church, where the event finished up, and that was the highlight for me.