Gil Asakawa's Nikkei View | pop culture
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KevJumba is one of the biggest stars onYouTube, with more than 1,631,596 subscribers who've clicked an incredible 173,609,339 times on his funny videos about life as, well, as KevJumba. Along with his pal and often co-star Ryan Higa, KevJumba (that's his YouTube username; his real name is Kevin Kai-Wen Wu) has managed to invented a new form of superstardom, using...

Nikkei Nation Logo I have to hand it to George Johnston, a Japanese American journalist and entrepreneur who is a veteran of news media. After he got laid off from the Hollywood Reporter, where he'd been web editor, he launched Nikkei Nation, a site that features news about Japan and Japanese Americans, in categories from Arts & Entertainment, Sports, Events and Science & Technology to Japan & Asia, Community, Obits and Obon Schedules. He has a partner Susan Yokoyama handling the business and marketing side as Associate Publisher, but this is a one-man band, editorially speaking. Johnston serves up the news several ways: Original reporting (he's a fine straight-ahead reporter as well as a seasoned columnist), repurposing of press releases and aggregated links to many other sites with headlines and brief descriptions, such as these for yesterday:
Obama, Kan to meet on Thursday (Sun., May 22, 2011) U.S. President Barack Obama will hold talks with Prime Minister Naoto Kan on May 26, the first of a two-day Group of Eight summit meeting in the French resort town of Deauville, the White House says. (Japan Times) Hawaii’s Rep. Mazie Hirono announces U.S. Senate bid (Sun., May 22, 2011) HONOLULU — The democratic field to replace retiring Sen. Dan Akaka doubles as Rep. Mazie Hirono announces her candidacy for the U.S. Senate. (KHON2.com) Budokan lease approved, fundraising is next for Little Tokyo sports complex (Sun., May 22, 2011) The Budokan of Los Angeles gets final approval to move forward after the Los Angeles City Council voted to grant a long-term ground lease to build the $22 million sports and activity center in Little Tokyo. (Downtown News) Obama’s appeals court pick Gordon Liu blocked (Sun., May 22, 2011) WASHINGTON — President Obama lost his first vote on a judicial nominee, as Senate Republicans derailed the nomination of a liberal professor who leveled acerbic attacks against two conservative Supreme Court nominees — both now justices. (Boston.com)
I included George during my panel last month, "From Newsprint to New Media: The Evolving Role of Nikkei Newspapers," because he's diving headfirst into an online-only business model. This month he took the bold step of announcing the free email subscriptions many of us have been receiving for months with daily roundups of all his news headlines will end, and if we want his news, we'll have to pay for it.

I had the pleasure in April of giving a presentation, "From Newsprint to New Media: The Evolving Role of Nikkei Newspaper," followed by a panel which I moderated, looking at the vibrant history of Japanese community newspapers. The program, which was organized by Discover Nikkei, was held at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles. Discover Nikkei is a project of JANM, and hosts its own very cool website that showcases the Nikkei experience from people of Japanese descent all over the world. Like the newspaper industry in general across the U.S., publications that serve Japanese communities -- both Japanese-speaking and English-speaking Japanese Americans -- have suffered from tough economic times, falling advertising dollars and declining readership. But also like the rest of the industry, Nikkei newspapers are evolving to suit the needs of the future. That's the framework I wanted to establish in my presentation, which I've embedded above. I followed my talk with brief introductions by four panelists describing their history and various current approaches to Nikkei media, and then a panel discussion about what's in store for the future. I've embedded videos of the entire program below, which was shot, edited and assembled by the Discover Nikkei staff as an album of video clips on this page.

Dengue Fever It's a curious conceit of rock critics that we love being the early adopters who discover great new talent, but we want that talent to stay exactly as we found it, as if the music is some sort of archeological treasure, suspended in amber for the ages. We can't imagine a musician might continue along an evolutionary progression and grow and mature artistically. Or worse, we dismiss artists we like when they become too popular, as if being adopted by a wider, mainstream audience taints artistic credibility. I know I've been guilty of both. I dismissed Joni Mitchell past "Miles of Aisles" as becoming too arty (as if her earliest, brittle folk gems weren't also arty to the extreme). I blew off Bruce Springsteen once he sold a bazillion copies of "Born in the USA." The fact is, most music critics are snobs, and we're proud of it. Over the years since I "retired" from being a full-time music critic, I've mellowed and accepted that I have biases (old-fart biases at that), and see how I blocked out good music by being an obstinate butthead. So I was surprised when I realized I still fall back on snob instincts with new music from time to time. These days I rarely write about any music unless it's related to my interests in Asian culture or Asian American community. I've written in the past (here and here), for instance, about Dengue Fever, an alt-rock band from California that was formed by a pair of white brothers who fell in love with Cambodian rock of the 1960s, and found a Cambodian singer to help them meld that sound with surf and psychedelic music. For years I've been intrigued by the band's globe-hopping musicality and especially enchanted by singer Chhom Nimol's slinky, elastic vocals, which snakes through melodies with the tonality and scale of traditional Cambodian folk and pop songs. In a word, though I hesitate to use it because it's such a loaded symbol of Orientalism, objectifying Asian culture and people, my attraction to Dengue Fever is in large part because of Nimol's exoticism. There, I've said it.

Quarter Pounder with Cheese: A Taste of American-style Heaven?Immigrants to the United States strive to gain the American dream.... and manage to gain American weight at the same time. It makes sense if you think about it: You want to fit in as a newcomer to the U.S., and you know the cliché, "when in Rome do as the Romans do" -- you eat like people in Peoria or Poughkeepsie. McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, Fattburger, Inn-N-Out, White Castle.... and that's just the burgers and fries. There's pizza, shakes, funnel cakes, onion rings, fried chicken, tacos, burritos, hot dogs, brats, chips of all kinds and candy out the wazoo (though, to be honest, Asians eat a wider array of strange and wonderful candy than the typical American chocolate bar). It's not just the high-calorie, high carb, high-sugar diet of Americans, it's that immigrants embrace this diet with gusto to prove their American-ness. According to an article on Futurity.org, "Immigrants get supersized in U.S.," a study published in Psychological Science that compared Asian Americans with white college students found some facsinating data about their childhood food memories:

Erin and I are celebrating the second anniversary of our talk-show visualizAsian, and I've been writing my Nikkei View musings since 1998 (check out the Nikkei View archives). But it boggles my mind to think that Phil Yu has been writing his Angry Asian Man blog for 10 years. Why? Because he's so frickin' dedicated that he writes multiple times...

Maggie Q and Albert Kim on the set of "Nikita"Wow, we're excited to announce our Second Anniversary show in honor of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month: A one-hour conversation with Albert Kim, a writer and co-producer for the hit CW network action series "Nikita" starring Maggie Q! We'll be speaking with Albert on TUESDAY, MAY 10 at 7 pm Pacific Time (10 PM ET). Just register with visualizAsian (it's free) and you'll get the information to dial in to our conference line, or listen on our live webcast. If you've already registered for visualizAsian calls in the past, you'll automatically receive the dial-in information via email. Remember, you can always submit questions to our visualizAsian guests in advance and during the livecast. You missed our show with Albert Kim! But for a limited time you can still register to hear the archived replay MP3 of the conversation. You may not recognize the name, but if you watch "Nikita" or have watched "Leverage" in the past, you've seen him in the front credits. Here's Albert's bio: Albert Kim is a TV writer, producer, and award-winning journalist. Before his stint the staff of "Nikita," Kim spent three seasons on the hit TNT show "Leverage," and has also written episodes of FX’s "Dirt." But his roots aren't in television scriptwriting.