WHAT: PKU Student Art Troupe Performance
WHERE: Stanford University Memorial Auditorium, Memorial Way, Stanford
WHEN: 2 p.m. - 4 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 29th
TIX: $10; (650) 576-6452; pkualumni.org WHY: One of the first Chinese collegiate performing art troupe to ever tour the US
WHAT: 2005 Lunar New Year Celebration Party
WHERE: Hayward Centennial Hall, 22292 Foothill Blvd, Hayward
WHEN: 11 a.m. - 5:30 pm Saturday, Jan. 29th
TIX: $12, Adult: $15, Child (12 yrs & under): $8.; tafnc.org WHY: It's the 32nd annual celebration for the Taiwanese American Federation of NC, and will feature lunch, speech, performing show and a raffle.
WHAT: Chinese New Year Flower Fair
WHERE: Great Mall, Milpitas
WHEN: 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. Saturday-Sunday; Jan.29-30th
TIX: free; more info WHY: Stock up on all the New Year things you need
Plus, here are some hip-hop events worth ch-checking out:
WHAT: Return of the Bboy//Pt. 9
WHERE: Mitchell Park Community Center, 3800 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto
WHEN: 4 - 8 p.m. contest, 8 - 10 p.m. after-party, Saturday, Jan. 29th
WHY: Check out some open cyphers and the 2 on 2 break dance competition
WHAT: History of Scratch Tour
WHERE: DNA Lounge, 37 11 St. @ Harrison, SF
WHEN: 10 p.m. - 2 a.m. Saturday, Jan.29th
TIX: $20 advance; flyer WHY: Check out the DJ pioneers: DJ Q-Bert, Jazzy Jeff and GrandWizzard Theodore
On one hand, I think it's good for artists who are at the top of their game to manage the game, but on other hand, being the top boss entails other business responsibilities. Let's hope it's a worthwhile union.
The song was made to the melody of "We are the World" and contained lyrics with derogatory words and depictions of Asian (though the song ignorantly assumed that all the Asians are Chinese).
Here's a sample: "..All at once you could hear the screaming (expletive toward Chinese) and no one was safe from the wave there were Africans drowning, little (expletive toward Chinese) swept away you could hear god laughing, "swim you (expletive) swim" Click here to see the uncensored lyrics.
The station owned by Emmis Communications has since posted an apology on their website and said the morning team who aired the song, has also been indefinitely suspended.
This is not the first time the morning team's host, Miss Jones, has made defaming comments toward Asians. After the board game Ghettopoly, which was created by David Chang, she suggested a Chinese version with a derogatory name. Leaders of some Asian American groups denounced the game and what it stood for.
In response to the tsunami song, Chinese American rapper Jin, fired a response with lines like "Thousands are still getting discovered each day/ how dare you compare a life to a week's pay" and is rapped to the melody of Jay-Z's "Breathe Easy." Click here to hear the song and here to see its lyrics.
In other tsunami news --
In Australia, a youth radio station called Triple-J, had a different reaction to their country giving tsunami aid, saying that it shouldn't take a tsunami to trigger help.
The man known as the "inventor of the scratch" talked about how it all started - how he was on two turntables in his room, replaying the groove over and over, when his mother knocked on his door - and basically said - You either turn it down or turn it off! At this point, his hand moved - created the sound "wigga wigga" - and the scratch was invented.
He says that even though the scratch was found by accident, it was something he had inside him and something he ultimately perfected. He then showed us a demonstration, placing his hand on the turntable as if it was the face of a clock, at 9 o'clock and at 10 o'clock. He scratched with such ease - he's been at it for 30 years.
Back in the day, he said, it wasn't so easy - they didn't have felt protecting the turntables - they would cut up undershirts. And the knobs were not so easy to turn; they were big and bulky - making the DJ look like he was having a seizure as he was trying to mix the music.
Then, Q-Bert, another DJ pioneer, went on the turntables and juggled some beats using a drum record. He said he's been listening to a lot of jazz lately to imitate their improvisation with scratching.
Someone asked Q if he played any "traditional" instruments. He said no. Q compared it to mastering a videogame - in his case, Street Fighter. Instead of spreading out his skillz, he basically practiced all his moves with the character Ken and perfected it - so like that character; he concentrated on the turntables and nothing else.
Later, I went to his house party in Daly City, where a lot of the scenes from the documentary "Scratch" was shot. Inside, there were eight turntables and all kinds of DJs from the very local and indie to the very famous like GrandWizzard Theodore and DJ Flare. Many of them worked the tables.
Besides turntables, the theme of the house was robots: robot paintings and old skool robot figurines. Many of them were from the Japanese anime Neon Genesis Evangelion.
The concert stretched more than four hours, and held possibly the largest group of Chinese Americans I have ever seen in the Bay: more than 6,000.
There were artists from Hong Kong, China and Taiwan, singing everything from traditional Chinese folk songs to pop songs.
Out of more than a dozen artists, my favorite had to be Zhang Di. He was in his 60s but he was a sharp freestyle performer. The artist asked the audience to ask him a question and he would turn it into a song. They asked everything from - Does your wife mistreat you? - to - Where are the most beautiful ladies? Then, as swift as Wayne Brady (from the show "Whose Line Is It Anyway?), Zhang summed up the questions and answers in a folk song.
For tonight, ch-check it out:
WHAT:GrandWizzard Theodore Demonstration
WHERE:NorCalDJMPA, 600 Townsend St., Suite 190W (Macromedia Building)
WHEN: 7:30 p.m., tonight 1/24
TIX: no cover
WHY: GrandWizzard Theodore invented the scratch, the basic DJ technique!
Asian Linkin Park and MTV's P Diddy's Makin Da Band "Malika"
While we're still on Chinese music, there's one band that has become a favorite of mine. Aadia is like an Asian version of Linkin Park with rock, rap, and an added element: Chinese opera.
And, also in the news, the article I reported on about popular Taiwanese aborigine singer coming to San Jose's HP - according to the concert promoter Connie Pan-Yu, A-mei has recently changed agents, so her appearance at the concert may be in jeopardy. She is, however, in the U.S. (in Boston to be specific) already.
I'll let you know when I know for sure whether or not she is going to be at the concert.
Here's the link again. It includes multiple song clips.
For this story, I looked into the singers: A-Yue, A-Mei, Priscilla Chan, Jay Chou, MC Hot Dog, Wu Bai, and Twelve Girls Band. These groups are more American than Asian, and are fast becoming something we, second generation immigrants, can proudly pump out of our cars rather than roll up the windows in embarrassment, says George Trivino, Rock Records producer (the no. 1 label in Taiwan, no. 9 indie label in the world).
This is also the first in a series of cultural arts stories reflecting the Bay Area. So keep checking the page out and email me if you have suggestions.
Here's one more event on the subject of the story,
WHO:Mayday, Taiwanese boy band
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 20
WHERE: San Jose State Event Center Arena, 209 S. 7th Street, San Jose
TIX: $40-75; ticketmaster.com
Also, there are those concerned with the potential political implications of such concerts (ie. concert promoters from a communist country bringing acts to a non-communist country) - if you have comments, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I finally watched "Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle." I thoroughly enjoyed it, and was upset with myself for not watching it on the big screen. I can totally relate to the themes because I have friends that behave the same way. For my group of Bay Area friends, however, the popular hangout wasn't White Castle -- it was Nation's.
The DVD extras are also hilarious. There are funny outtakes, plus interviews with the actors. I liked how the bad guy who kept taking "extreme" measures against the White Castle duo, seemed more like a scholar than a stoner. Also, you need to catch the "Art of a Fart" featurette.
IN MUSIC Coming out today is 50 Cent's very hyped G-Unit artist, The Game. I was terribly disappointed with The Game, because he was over-hyped. Much of the album sounds the same with the exception of different beats. I did like the last track on the disc, "like father, like son," about the birth of his son -- it softens his rough gangsta edges.
Tsunami relief, Martin Luther and the SF Sketchfest
Early this morning, I participated in The Improv / KEZR Tsunami Relief Benefit. The fundraiser was hosted by KEZR, at San Jose's Impov downtown from 6 to 10 a.m. It was a lot of fun. We got fed (yummy things like egg and potato burritos), entertained by very very funny comedians (including Tracy Morgan) and helped out the tsunami relief effort. At the end of the event at 9:30 a.m., KEZR producer Timothy Bednarz said the fundraiser raised $2,000 and was still getting donations.
Also this morning, I'm interviewing soul singer Martin Luther, anybody have any questions or thoughts about him? He's coming to the Paramount in Oakland Feb. 10-11th.
Here's his ticket info as well, if you're interested:
WHAT:Special Ed WHERE: Elbo Room, 647 Valencia St. (btwn. 17th & 18th St.), San Francisco
WHEN: 9pm-2am, tonight
TIX: $12 adv./$15 door, 21+ w/ ID, http://www.true-skool.org/ WHY: Rapper Special Ed is known for such hits as "I Got It Made," "I'm the Magnificent" and "Taxin'." He's also appeared on "The Cosby Show" and in the urban drama, "Juice," and most recently on on Snoop Dogg's 2002 Doggystyle All-Stars "Welcome to the House Vol. 1."
WHAT:?uestlove dj-ing live
WHERE:Zoe Nightclub, 417 South First Street, San Jose
WHEN: 9pm-2am, tonight
TIX: Only $5 with this passs WHY: Hear the renowned drummer from The Roots show display his deejaying skills. He mixes everything from N.E.R.D. to Nirvana.
His last picture, "Shaolin Soccer," was disappointingly missing from the big screen here in the states. Miramax had reportedly dropped the ball, and the movie went straight to video. I caught a bootleg version before it was released here and thought it was hilarious. That movie was about some has-been Shaolin monks who use their martial arts skills to win at soccer.
"Kung Fu Hustle" is in the same vein. Some scruffy martial artists go against the notorious Axe Gang, who dance before they kill. Computer graphics grant all the killers superhuman abilities.
I couldn't stop laughing during the whole movie (my stomach hurt from all the laughing) but some locals that I spoke to thought it was totally wack.
But for you kung-fu die-hards, remember this movie, because it's worth checking out.
As for entertainment here, ch-check it out:
WHAT:NorCalDJMPA Open House WHERE: 600 Townsend St., Suite 190W (Macromedia Builiding), San Francisco
WHEN: 6-8 p.m. tonight, 1/13
TIX: No cover
WHY: Find out more about DJ courses. After the seminar, there's also an open scratch session
Also, if you're an early riser, ch-check this out:
WHAT: The Improv / KEZR Tsunami Relief Benefit
WHERE:San Jose Improv, 62 S. Second Street, San Jose
WHEN: 6-10 a.m. tomorrow (with breakfast), live comedy show starts at 7 a.m., 1/14
TIX: No cover; donations accepted to The Red Cross Tsunami Relief Fund WHY: Get a free breakfast, a comedy show, and a chance to help others.
When I was in Hong Kong, I made sure to stop by a karaoke club. Embarrassingly, I'll admit, I love karaoke. In college, after finals, I spent almost a full day at a karaoke club with 20-some other friends.
In Hong Kong, locals informed me that after shopping and eating, karaoke is one of the more popular forms of entertainment.
I'm not talking about the type of karaoke where you go in front of the whole bar and sing your lungs out. I'm talking about the kind where you get your own room and sing privately with some friends.
Unlike karaoke joints of that type here in the Bay Area, the one in Hong Kong was much more luxurious. Its lobby looked like one for a fancy hotel.
It was also more tech savvy -- instead of searching printed books filled with songs, a second screen, next to the karaoke one, provided lists of songs you can choose from. All you had to do was use its remote. Also, it was much cheaper. At a typical karaoke place here, it could cost upwards of $20 during the non-happy-hour times. But for four hours there was about $10 - this included two non-alcoholic drinks.
And although they were stocked up on all kinds of Asian songs, they didn't have many popular top-40 English ones. We made do with Eminem's "Lose It" and "Grease"
If you're looking for some good karaoke here in the Bay Area, here are some of my favorite joints:
Music Tunnel KTV Pacific East Mall
3288 Pierce St. #A-128, Richmond
When I was in Taiwan, another reporter (Max Woodworth of the Taipei Times) recommended I listen to Taiwanese artist, Mr. Eyeball. (click on the bolded words to find out more about the man behind the eye)
Several theater groups have worn costumes he designed and his art sometimes hangs in pubs and galleries around Taiwan.
His music is an interesting mix of spoken word, Chinese opera, and Taiwanese folk song - all spun together with a sense of humor. The glossy album cover alone is worth collecting. On one side is a happy man with a giant eyeball for a head walking his dog and singing while the other side shows a much darker eyeball man with skulls. The poster that comes with it is as weird. As eccentric as he is, I think Mr. Eyeball grows on you and soon you find yourself humming along.