Saturday, May 29, 2004


cutmaster, cut faster (image by OW)

As a mixer, J-Rocc is pure poetry in motion. I write about the Beat Junkie in the new, inaugural issue of Scratch Magazine and I caught him tonight at the L.A. Carnival show in San Francisco (too many of ya'll slept but hey, that happens). There are other DJs who just as eclectic with their musical range (Z-Trip) or as proficient in the mix (Cut Chemist) but seriously, I can't think of any other DJ who's as much fun to watch as J-Rocc. As I write in Scratch, "J-Rocc never rests. Fingers twist EQ knobs, touch the platter, grab for the next record and all the while, his whole frame bobs and weaves." He makes mixing seem so damn effortless, even as he plays with songs in endless combinations, remixing on the fly with an inspired, improvisational style. Every party DJ should take a requisite lesson from his mixing approach and while I'm not saying folks should clone his steez, they'd do well to learn how to keep a vibe going while still tackling a profuse and diverse range of music.

when J-Rocc talks, DJs better listen (photo by OW)
  • J-Rocc's discography up through 2002 (yo, someone needs to update!)
  • J-Rocc's Syndromes Remix mix-CD.
  • J-Rocc's Now That's What I Call Hip Hop! Vol. 1"

  • as life flashes by (images courtesy filmbrain)

    Filmbrain reviews one of Pop Life's favorite movies of 2004 so far: Last Life in the Universe.

    AND NOW...

  • Interim Tinyluckygenius poster Miles Raymer has a very funny post up about getting into the inner circle of a local Chicago bartender. Remember, it's better to befriend the big people in low posts than the little people in big posts. Especially when they can ply you with free liquor.

  • In the latest "How to Write On Music," please refer yourself to the latest New Yorker where Sasha discusses Nellie McKay.

  • Eden's on a rampage over at Just One Bite.

  • Godzilla Final Wars? With 10 monsters in the mix, including Mothra and Monster X? Hell yeah.
    (credit: Filmbrain)

  • Thursday, May 27, 2004


    I know I'm not the first to say this but it needs repeating until people actually start to listen. Can people please, please, PLEASE stop using this ridiculous "no homo" tag on everything they post these days? I don't know who started it, but really, the shit needs to stop. Yesterday. It's getting to the point where people are throwing up "no homo" after everything, not just puns that sound vaguely "gay" (and seriously, gay is now so mainstream, it's like the new straight) but even simple expressions of affection or admiration between men. For example, it's not at all uncommon to see some DUMB SHIT like this: "I love that new Ghostface album. I'm really into him (no homo)". Seriously, what the hell is that about? Have we become such a homophobic society think that because a man professes a positive opinion about another man's work that it means they want to drop to their knees and start smoking pole?

    Remember when gay = lame = stupid? That was like, so 1985 and eventually, most of us grew out of that phase since, you know, we were TEN YEARS OLD THEN. But now I see grown ass men adding this "no homo" shit to everything they write and they think they're being funny but really, they're just acting like they're TEN YEARS OLD. Moreover, especially in a time where the queer community is on the verge of actually winning some long delayed social justice for the mere right to exist, love and partner with one another, to see this sudden wave of "no homo-itis" cresting over the Internet makes me think that there are too many men out there who need some intense therapy to break them out of their arrested development.

    I know some folks out there are some hardcore, hard-wired homophobes who will never accept queer people as people but the sad thing is that most of the people out there using the "no homo" tag aren't rolling out to beat down gay men in parking lots but are probably well-meaning liberal types who just think it's clever and funny to throw around "no homo" like it's about to go out of style.

    Seriously, grow the fuck up. "No homo" isn't funny - it's tired and asinine and only feeds into a cultural hostility towards queers. These days, men should be flattered if they're confused with being gay since gay men, in our popular media, are smart, funny, well-dressed and charming. The point is that it doesn't matter if you're a straight man or a gay man, so long as you know how to act like a real man and not some juvenile dumb ass who's a few IQ points short of double digits.

    (Oh yeah, and on that note, can people also stop biting David Chapelle by deciding to throw "bitches" into everything they write? I.e. "hello bitches!". "Welcome, bitches!" "So what do you think of that, bitches?" The shit was funny when Chapelle did it, but now that grown ass white people are saying it over the water cooler, it has officially become passe, like the "whazzup!" craze of a few years back.)


  • Air Guitar battles. Wild hot.

  • More reasons why royalty is wack.

  • Fantasia wins. I don't care. La Toya was robbed.

  • By the way, another piece of "How to Write About Music" tip: look at what Nick Hornby does and then do NOT do any of that. It's becoming quite the fashion to say, "love his books, hate this criticism" and I'm riding that bandwagon right now. His middle life crisis approach to writing on music is the journalistic equivalent of Nader's current presidential run - his self-aggrandizing ego is destroying whatever credibility he's crafted elsewhere. Hornby: just shut up and leave music criticism to someone who actually likes music. Again, it's times like this that I thank my pagan gods that Sasha is the New Yorker's pop music critic and not Hornby anymore.

  • Reality TV gets realer. Really.
    (credit: The Blueprint)

  • Wednesday, May 26, 2004


    Let's just put this out there: the show is pure evil. You may claim that the fame of someone like William Hung is what encouraged the creation of a show like this but the difference is that people were clowning Hung from Day One - he always knew his popularity didn't stem from actual singing ability but rather this strange cult of personality that he developed by random fluke. No, this is basically sadism and cruelty masquerading as entertainment.

    Of course, the reason why they're able to pull this off though is by making us (the audience) believe that these suffering fools deserve their fates because they're so deluded by their own greed for fame. It actually is rather brilliant how the show milks out the worst parts of American Idol and creates a whole show from that disdain. In other words, if you remember during the audition phase of AI, the people you dislike the most are those arrogant asses who seem to think they're are the God-ordiained kings and queens of stardom and how the judges on AI must be smoking dust if they can't see their talent. We hate those people and frankly, we're glad to see them humiliated on live TV because it fulfills our own need to watch the unjustifiably arrogant get smashed underneath the heel of righteousness (or something like that). Those first few weeks on AI is where we get to see those people at our jobs or in schools or in our family, who think they're #1 Hot Stunna Shit get reduced to a shower of tears on the national stage.

    The problem with Superstar USA is that most of the contestants that they've selected are not, in fact, those bastards who need to get put in their place. It's what makes the show different from, say, Joe Millionaire (another orchestrated sham that Wanda Sykes accurately dubbed "Bitches Love Money") where the producers played up the catty, backstabbing in-fighting among those women. With Superstar, most of these folks are simply entirely deluded, thereby deserving, at the very least, pity rather than our scorn. For example, Mario really doesn't seem like an asshole - he's awkward but kind of sweet in a Hungian manner (yes, I just made Willie's name an adjective). What's the point in humiliating him?

    In fact, the only person they've really offered up as someone who'll earn everyone's utter venom is Jamie, but probably only because she looks like Jessica Simpson's half-cousin, portrayed as blond, rather ditzy (she does have to read her lyrics off her hand. Wow.) and possesses far too much undeserved self-esteem. Same goes for Rosa, the Latina in the mix who claims to have a "way better" voice than J. Lo which, really, isn't say shit. The jury is still out on Nina Diva. She's just a little too cheery and much as I'd like to prop up my Asian sistah, she comes off as straight loony. She calls herself Nina Diva. I mean, what are you supposed to do with that?

    This doesn't mean the show doesn't have its joys. Watching the Anglo Assassin fumble his way through Black Sheep's "The Choice Is Yours" (Revisited) was amazing, 1) because the song's lyrics are NOT that hard to remember son! and 2) his freestyle was stunningly wack. And I, like many, am pretty mezmerized by Ross, the most andrognyous (and alas, Asian) person this side of a SNL skit but alas, both are going home. But really, how much bad singing is America prepared to take? Of course, they did put up with John Stevens for what felt like forever so clearly, there's room for much

    Sunday, May 23, 2004


    JP over at Intellectual Hip Hop Commentary suggests that I should publish a small guide on "how to start writing on music" since I get asked that question all the time. It's worth thinking about but let me offer some free advice in the meantime:

    I used to (and still) do this all the time but one should really try to stay away from making sweeping generalizations about an entire GENRE of music as a way to make your point. The most base form of this, especially in hip-hop writing, is something that resembles the following formula:

    "While other rappers only seem able to rhyme about [insert: money, drugs, violence, women, etc], [insert obscure indie rapper] is something meaningful about [insert: what he ate for breakfast, his last break-up, some super-scientifical shit, 9/11, etc.]"

    I call it straw-man criticism because you're setting up everyone else to fail simply to prop up the artist you're championing. It's easy to describe based on exclusion but it's a cheap trick that is large on rhetoric, small on actual description. More dangerously, it can and will make you sound like a total fucking ignoramous when you use it unwisely.

    Case in point: this comes to me from Michaelangelo Matos, who lays into Salon's Thomas Bartlett (who writes their Wed. Morning Download column) for saying some supremely stupid things in his column. When I say stupid, I don't mean Bartlett lacks the intelligence to write well, I mean that his criticism is lazy, tired and small-minded. Matos gives Bartlett the full blast but let me just point out one thing that Bartlett writes when talking about Ghostface's "Love":

      "It's fascinating that hip-hop, notorious for machismo, anger and violence, can produce music [he's writing about Ghostface's 'Love'] this gloriously, unabashedly sentimental"

    Bartlett is making sweeping generalizations that one would typically expect only from a middle-aged white man (or Stanley Crouch), i.e. that hip-hop is mostly known for machismo, anger, and violence and that it is not, in fact, about glorious, unabashed sentiment. I don't know if Bartlett is middle-aged or white but his comment does betray an ignorance that essentially invalidates whatever else he writes. See, this is the problem: Bartlett could have penned 1,000 genius words celebrating Ghostface (doubtful but let's just pretend). However, that one line undermines him so badly, it might as well be a faulty brake line on an otherwise spank car. The problem is that it reveals an utter LACK of knowledge about the very genre he's debasing. Hip-hop is FILLED with unabashed sentiment, not the least of which is from Ghostface himself, or the Wu-Tang in general, or any number of HUNDREDS of songs you could choose from. In fact, here's just a random sampling I whipped off the dome:
      De La Soul: Eye Know
      A Tribe Called Quest: Bonita Applebaum
      Jay-Z: Song Cry
      Chubb Rock: Cat
      AZ: In a Special Way
      Pete Rock and CL Smooth: They Reminisce over You
      Too Short: Freaky Tales (ok, that's a joke...or maybe not)

    My point being that if you paint with such a wide brush, you're simply outting yourself as a know-nothing who's trying to talk bigger than you're capable of. I don't write on rock albums much because, honestly, I'm not that schooled in the genre. But if I were to, say, tackle Loretta Lynn's new album, produced by Jack White, I'd at least better know some basics about Lynn's background within country music as well as Jack White's position within the rock world and moreover, appreciate that the intersection between rock and country music is hardly new or unique. As I said in a previous post, that's doing your homework. Bartlett is guilty of intellectual truancy. Detention for him after school, where he'll be forced to listen to LL's "I Need Love" 100 times.


    Pop Life's valued colleague/friend Joseph Patel aka Jazzbo shows you how to do this, son. Eminem recently helped encourage young hip-hop fans to get out and register to vote, and just to accent the point, he claimed that, because he has a felony record, he is barred from voting. Simple, straightforward story, right? Well, Jazzbo showed some brilliant instinct and did this little thing called fact-checking (something that far too few writers ever bother with) and discovered, actually, Eminem can vote - he just needs to register. Read about it here.

    Now, it's not like this is going to bump Iraq off the headlines, but this shows you what some basic instinct and a little labor can produce: a small story now made interesting and worth a good laugh from all of us out there who love (or don't) Eminem but enjoy that even the most powerful white rapper in the world still needs to do his homework sometimes. Detention for Marshall Mathers too, where he'll be forced to hand out voter registration sign-up sheets at the DMV.

    By the way, this is now my all-time favorite photo of the aforementioned Jazzbo:

    I hear he's mad nice on the mic too - Kanyeezy better watch his back.


  • Upgrade: Sopranos. This show has FINALLY gotten some goddamn cajones. Watching it was like getting kicked in the stomach and it sets up what promises to be a rollicking season finale where one should assume bodies will start dropping like flies. I realize that with Drea de Matteo leaving to star on Joey, they had to resolve her character, Adriana, but I really did not see her little ride into the forest with Silvio coming. Her demise was truly tragic: her character the last two seasons has suffered more pathos than anyone, Tony S. included, and in a season that's lacked depth or even believability, her removal finally brought some realness home. Just to note too, her execution recalled at least two different movies I could think of: 13th Hour, where Edward Norton's character dreams of what an alternative future could look like, driving up north from New York. And there's Miller's Crossing, whose VHS box depicts a mob executon in the fall forest. In any case, Pop Life sheds a tear for the dearly departed Adriana and hopes that sometime between this and next season, Christopher gets his. Hopefully painfully.

  • Downgrade:Alias. I'm not dismissing the show outright but the season finale was rather wack. Apparently, they had to change the original ending (never a good sign) but what they really need to do is rejigger the entire story arc. I said this before and I'll say it again: the Rimbali plot is choking the show to death. It's actually worse than the so-called X-Files "mythology" which, while suffocating the show at times, wasn't nearly as omnipresent as Rimbali is in Alias. We've been dealing with this crap for three seasons now and where it was once intriguing, it's now become the entire logic that powers the show and it's awkwardly forcing the storylines to comply. Seeing Lauren get whacked was mildly gratifying but really, I'm not convinced she's really dead yet. No one on this show dies easily, you know? But all that aside, what new plot twist can they possibly pull out now? Mom's come and gone. Sydney's gotten her two years back. Ok, now what? I feel like next season could very well be the show's last and if things keep going the way they're going - it deserves to be.

  • If you need a good laugh over other people's stupidity, read this.

  • Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle.Yes, it's from the same director who did Dude, Where's My Car but I'm not holding that against the film. Not yet at least. Still, I gotta represent for my man (and Cal alum) John Cho.

  • I missed the first episode but reality t.v. comes to Asian America. Quest USA. I am not at all convinced this is a good thing but we'll see after I catch the show.
    (credit: Angry Asian Man)

  • Hua's on-going postings about conversations heard in the club are priceless. Every DJ has had to deal with them but it doesn't make them any less funny.

  • Then again, I guess that beats cleaning up watermelon off your dancefloor.

  • Thursday, May 20, 2004


    good while it lasted

    I won't go on and on about how great this show has been this season (since I've been doing it throughout) or even remark about the complex excellence of the series finale from last night (some humor, some pathos, lotsa violence). But, I d want to note that in a year where we've seen many series' endings: Sex in the City, Friends, Frasier, etc., I'm glad Angel didn't go out trying to tie up all the loose ends, where everyone hugs with a tear and a smile. I liked Buffy's finale if only because the show knew its end was nigh and dealt with it accordingly, with just the right amount of sentimentality that was required to mark the passing of such a landmark show. Angel never had Buffy's cult-like status but despite not having many undergrad papers penned to its symbolism as a model for post-feminism, Angel still benefitted from the best qualities of Joss Whedon's writing and vision. As emotionally deep as it was intelligently clever, this was a great piece of television that ended far sooner than it should have. The way this finale closes - with furious defiance - could not have been more appropriate or inspired. Bravo.

    (and oh yeah, WB are still a bunch of dumb asses)

    Wednesday, May 19, 2004


  • First of all, Coltrane just got his stickman back. Elvin Jones has passed.

  • J-Smooth gets his blog plugged in Spin. First order of business: dealing with all the hipsters now peeking at his site.

  • I love the spring and its bounty of new-ness: grass, trees, flowers and updated blog designs. It's about time! (Now, would someone please cajole this guy into doing the same? It's all love JP but c'mon man, your template is so 2002.)

  • Jazzbo updates his Crunkster blog about as often as I shave but he always brings the rilly real from the world of urban pop.

  • Meanwhile, his crosstown NY buddy Jon Caramanica slays Black Eyed Peas:
      "Lose your illusions That BEP are anything more than recipients of hip-hop affirmative-action, the type of rap act beloved by white people who hate black folk. Calling them the poor man's Outkast would be too generous. More like the poor dog's Arrested Development. With an R&B bitch over bullshit tracks."
    Where is the love Jon? Where is the love?

  • In between dissertation (in)activity, I've been killing massive time (and brain cells) with the Monkey Billiards mini-game on Super Monkey Ball. Don't ask.

  • Unlike Super Monkey Ball, Smackfest 2004 is not a Gamecube title but a contest sponsored by NY's Hot 97 where two people take turns slapping the shit out of one another (complete with video feeds). Raw like sushi.

  • One of the best mix-CDs I've heard this year has been Junichi Semitsu's The Best Songs of 2003. Slick segues, a generous embrace of music ranging from Jet to 50 Cent to Fountains of Wayne to Jay-Z to the White Stripes, et. al. I'm just mentioning it because I think it's great - it's amazing what you can do with Pro Tools these days - but it's not like you can buy this anywhere (not yet anyways). I'm just giving credit where it's due.


    Rap's Liberace
    (From this week's Minneapolis City Pages)
      It takes new lexicons to phrase Ghostface's grace; his ballistic imagination inspires inventions like illtacular, stuntastic, splendescent. While other peers play it so cool they're frozen, Ghost embraces flamboyance like rap's Liberace, eschewing sequined robes for a mouth that spits confetti. Check these random shards from "Beat the Clock": "I be potent like ibuprofen/I be coasting/With two shotties on me/In your grimiest lobby smoking." That kind of heady wordplay isn't always consistent or accessible, yet it generates excitement with every vivid line. On "Run," he spills a torrent of cinematic imagery, warning, "Hop fences/Jump over benches/When you see me coming/Get the fuck out the entrance." Your body instinctually braces for impact.

      Ghost can get topical when shedding sentiment on "Save Me Dear" or sparring with Jackie-O on "Tooken Back," but he's best when painting outside the lines. For "Holla," his rhymes steamroll over the Philly soul classic "La La La"--not a sample from that track, but the actual song, the Delfonics' vocals be damned. Ghost enjoys playing the superhero with his x-ray rhymes, but throughout his career he's also revealed vulnerabilities that border on proto-emo. He ends the album with "Love," a heartfelt dedication to Martin, Malcolm, his mom, his babies, and so forth. It's a stark contrast from the brutish misogyny of "Last Night" or slobbering lust of "Keisha's House." Ghost's line from "Love," "Funny how love could end so subtle/Was it just sex and not really love for the couple?" is so poetically sensitive, you'd think you wandered into an Erykah Badu video.

      Pretty Toney isn't Ghost's best album; he's yet to surpass the uniform excellence of his first two, Ironman and Supreme Clientele. Yet, in a year where urrrbody in the club's getting tipsy, Ghostface responds with a hypo of adrenaline straight through the chest plate, right when you didn't even realize you needed it.

    Whoo-Ridin' for Revolution
    (from this week's San Francisco Bay Guardian)

      THE MOST POWERFUL statement Dead Prez make on their new album, RBG: Revolutionary but Gangsta (Sony), is with the cover art. Their recasting of the African red, black, and green in paisley doo-rag shades adroitly distills their image as robbin' hoods out to AK their way into a new world order. If nothing else, M-1 and Stic excel at pushing the idea(l) of '60s riot revolution in a tempting package. Compared to their 2000 release, Let's Get Free, RBG is tighter, as their low-end electro rumblings tug harder at your gut, and double-time, Southern-fried flows nestle snuggly in the pocket. This is marching music for a new generation of street soldiers, and Dead Prez wave the recruitment flag loud and proud.

      Stic and M-1 aspire to what Oakland's Coup have excelled at: kicking complex ideologies on race and class to both the ivory tower and asphalt alley. Dead Prez's current hit, "Hell Yeah (Pimp the System)," for example, is a manifesto of working-class rebellion, a guidebook to "pimping the system." However, in contrast to the Coup's Boots and his sophisticated ways of coding messages into music, Dead Prez's songwriting, at best, is unintentionally humorous in its hyperbole. At worst, they just dish out didacticism.

      Some 15 years after Public Enemy and N.W.A. shook the world, it's no longer enough just to shout, "Revolution!" and throw up a clenched fist. Today's politically engaged hip-hop fan has a right to demand artistry with his or her agitprop, but Dead Prez's proselytizing lacks both passion and subtlety. For example, "I Have a Dream Too" promotes drive-bys on cops, but it's surprisingly tame and tedious compared to the unleashed anger of Jay Dee's funky, furious "Fuck the Police." "W-4" tries to engage working-class frustrations, but Kayne West's "Spaceship" tackles the same topic with far more sophistication and spirit. Even their catchy "Hell Yeah" begins to drag when you realize not only that their calls to commit credit fraud and carjack pizza delivery people estrange the very wage slaves they're supposed to unite, but also that it's fundamentally a hustler's anthem that lacks a collective consciousness. Dead Prez's political plank juts out provocatively but fails to connect anywhere.

      This may sound like damning with faint praise, but RBG is a compelling listen so long as you don't listen too closely. The group's thick, sticky sound beckons your body into compliance even if your mind resists. Moreover, Stic and M-1 deserve recognition for trying to ignite popular outrage in a time of arrogant apathy. But good intentions don't equal great songs, and the pair's reliance on flat rhetoric muffles their impact. Where they should be lobbing Molotovs, Dead Prez mostly rub sticks that produce smoke, but alas, little fire.

    Monday, May 17, 2004


    happier times

    Sharon and I recently took a trip up to Napa to join some out-of-town friends who were winery-hopping. At one location, I noticed a young Asian girl prancing about, she was probably six or seven, and looked a little out of place with all the adult, wanna-be someliers, savoring the bouquet of their Merlots and Chardonnays. I heard a voice in back of me calling to this child and I turned and there stood an older white woman - at least in her 40s - joined by another white woman of the same age. The girl chirped, "Mommy Susan, are we done yet?" and I silently assessed what was obvious: lesbian couple, Asian (probably Chinese) adoptee. Ah, America.

    The adoption of Asian babies by white couples is both simple yet anything but. As an economic equation, the phenom is simple: there is a demand by white couples (queer or otherwise) for children and there is a supply available in Asia especially China now, formerly Korea and South-East Asia. The explanation (read: justification) for this kind of transnational/transracial adoption is so widely circulated that it might as well be a bumper sticker: we're giving these children a better life. From a material point of view, there's no real debate here. Considering that my grandmother almost gave away my mom because she already had two daughters, I fully recognize that girls are not welcomed or treasured within certain Asian societies and that a life in the United States, almost regardless of class status, will likely be a vast improvement in terms of education and health care compared to what they would have faced as orphans in China (note: this gap is shrinking on both ends. Being a child in tonier parts of Shanghai is likely a vast improvement over living in more toxic parts of Richmond, CA).

    What is troubling though is how easily this logic (adoption = better life for neglected children!) becomes perverted into not-so-subtle culture and political tussles. For one thing, I cannot stand how glib some attitudes are around transracial adoption, as if the transracial aspect of the arrangement is immaterial. Sure, maybe on Different Strokes but outside the Drummond household, being a child of color raised by white parents is not likely going to come issue-free, especially not in a society and culture as racially charged as America. Mind you - I am not saying that transracial/national adoption is bad. I am only suggesting that to assume that such adoptions are inherently good and above concern is both arrogant and ignorant.

    This brings us to the case of the Hes and the Bakers. Their debacle has been on-going for several months and I credit Angry Asian with helping to provide as much information as possible. If you need a basic primer, this recent NY Times story should bring you up to speed.

    I don't know all the facts in the case. I don't know who signed what. What I do know is that this case is likely going to explode into far wider attention and controversy in the weeks to come, possibly attaining the level of scrunity that landmark adoption cases in the 1980s engendered. What we have here is the not a baby left abandoned by dead or disinterested parents. Anna-Mae, the four-year old at the center of this storm, grew up with her birth parents in constant attendence. There is no factual evidence that supports the claim that her arrangement with her foster parents was anything other than temporary. However, the grandest of all adoption trump cards is being played here: the Bakers claim that Anna-Mae will have a better and safer home being with them rather than her birth family.

    There are compelling reasons why parents should lose a child. Sexual or physical abuse for example. Rampant drug or alcohol use for another. Incontrovertible neglect. Etc. Being below the class means of another family though sets a tremendously dangerous precedent and the very value system such a decision is premised on is damnable. If the worth of parenthood was determined on the basis of class resources alone, this country might as well slide back into the eugenics movement of the early 20th century. Certainly, there's probably no shortage of people today who think the poor should be sterilized and while this adoption case isn't that extreme, its basic decision seems premised on a similar logic. It is remarkable that for a country and political system that crows all the time about "family values," should deny a pair of birth parents custody of their daughter because her adopted parents can provide a materially better life. For one, this seems to blow a hole wide open in the 14th Amendment, promising equal protection under the law, not to mention repudiation of the basis tenent that "we are all created equal."

    This has, of course, happened before. There is a long and reprehensible history of Native American children being forcibly removed from their parents under the auspices of "their welfare". The transracial adoption of Black children by white parents has set off similar alarms. But up until now, the adoption of Asian children has largely gotten kid-glove treatment because few could really argue that these boys and girls would have been better off in Asia. The Hes and Bakers change the rules of the debate however by taking their tussle to our shores, self-contained within the legal and political space of America. What separates them is class, race and citizenship and in all areas, the Hes are at a distinct disadvantage. The fact that the Hes are in a precarious position as aliens awaiting deportation is salt in the wound - it not only makes their situation that much more difficult to negotiate, but it was been perverted to weaken their case in trying to reclaim their daughter.

    The last thing I'll say on this is that if the Bakers prevail - and as this case drags out further, their chances improve - I cannot imagine how they will explain this history to their daughter when she is old enough to consider the ramifications of all this. I do not envy a father or mother who will be forced to explain to their daughter that they "kept" her from returning to birth parents who wanted her; that Anna-Mae has a full-sister, three years her junior, who grew up in a separate household; that what separated two pairs of loving parents was the square footage of their respective homes and tax bracket they fell into. Anna-Mae will already grow up in a complex environment where identity, race and ethnicity are sure to be difficult to negotiate, but on top of that, she has to grow up wondering whether or not her parents, however well-intentioned, destroyed another family in order to complete their own.


    they may have to create a new concentric circle of hell for this

    I admit. I watched WB's Superstar USA. For those of you who've avoided the WB (and for good reason, Angel excepted), here's the deal: this is American Idol inverted. They are out to find to worst singers but they're fooling people into thinking they're good. Just like AI, they audition thousands and whittle down through the ranks until they end up with a squad of truly, terrible singers who all think they're the next La Toya Fantasia.

    Give WB credit for shamelessly boosting every detail from Idol they could milk. They don't only find a Ryan Seacrest look/sound-alike with host Brian McFayden; they don't only duplicate the gender/racial mix of judges with Briggs, Vitamin C and Tone Loc; they also copy down every production detail they can find. The dialogue is straight scripted from Idol, to the point where they're practically indistinguishable. All you needed was to give Briggs a British accent to complete the cloning process.

    The audition process was hilarious though not necessarily any more outrageous that what we saw in the early weeks of Idol. One exception (besides the woman who took off her clothes) was Ros, the most androngynous person on TV since SNL's Pat. I hate to do this to a fellow Asian, but Ros had me cross-eyed trying to ascertain his gender. Crazy bizarre.

    It's a little early to determine if this show is going to prove more enjoyable than the cruel hoax it is premised on but strangely, what makes the show compelling at this early point is not the joke about how bad the singers are but how long it will take people to figure out they're the butt of this all. After all, it's one thing to think that you've got the touch but even bad singers should be able to notice how truly horrible everyone around them is. Or so you'd think.

    Eh...forget Superstar USA. The realness is right here. Will Hung refuses to die.


  • Chris Ryan is a force of fucking nature right now. He cannot be stopped with his b-ball blog. This is from his latest missive:
      " I hope Kobe averages 47 a game and breaks up Doug Christie's marriage. I hope Shaq and Mailman play ping pong with Brad Miller's head and feed his remains to Malone's pet cougar. I hope Gary Payton rediscovers his early-90's mojo and starts tossing Spiderman alley-oop's to Devan George who will be mimicking the Skinny-yet-Muscular-era Shawn Kemp."
    Chris, you killing 'em!

  • More Kings hate is coming from Fitted Sweats:
      "The Maloof Brothers -- Which one of you is the fat one who has the bad Wham! haircut? Oh, never mind, I will just pull out my stack of men's magazines, in which, every other issue has a great 3700-word piece on you crazy nuts. "Oh, it's the wacky Maloof show." From New Mexico to Vegas to Sacto. Three shittier parts of the U.S. would be difficult to find. P.S. you guys have never won shit. Your life is a Farrelly movie minus the humor. P.S. The Farrelly Brothers have fallen the fuck off."
    Damn, and all this time, I thought I was on the wrong side of history for disliking the Kings too. Ha ha, everyone hates them!

  • Anyone want to explain WTF this week's Sopranos' dream sequence was about, please let me know. For a moment, I was expecting Dale Cooper to drop in, talking about black coffee and cherry pie.

  • These dudes update their site every once in a blue moon but when they do, the Gossiping Bitches kill it. This time, it's Fake Thug Court, aka Evaluating the new Tupacs.

  • American Idol: do your votes even count?
    (credit: Different Kitchen)

  • Thursday, May 13, 2004


    how come carrie never thought of this?

    Shoe porn courtesy of Seriously, this is the best thing ever.

    Wednesday, May 12, 2004

    IN THE MOOD FOR 2046

    back to the future

    Goddamn, I want to see Wong Kar-Wai's new film, 2046 badly. Anyone want to buy me a ticket for Cannes?

    La Toya is out. Unbelievable. As usual, Papa Zen called this shit: it's going to be Fantasia vs. Diana (though never count out Hawaiian pride).

    Tuesday, May 11, 2004


    silly American movie critic

    One question I frequently get asked by young writers is whether or not you have to be an expert in the subjects you write about. In other words, if you want to write reviews of hip-hop albums, should you be an expert in all things hip-hop from the days of "King Time III" up to the latest Sage Francis MP3? Or, if you're going to write about food, do you need to have a culinary degree or memorize the collected works of MFK Fisher? The not-so-simple answer is: no, you don't always need to be an expert. So much of our engagement with art is meaingful not because we know everything there is about the object, the artist, the movement it belongs to, what it was influenced by and what it influenced, etc. Sometimes, all you need to be able to articulate is how does it make you feel which forces you to write outside of the purely intellectual and describe that which evades easy description.

    On the other hand, knowledge is a useful asset as a writer. At the very least, do your homework on your topic so that you don't make insipid factual errors or state opinions that can be easily dismissed for lack of rigor. Case in point:

    I was reading David Denby's review of Kill Bill 2 in The New Yorker from two weeks back. Denby did not like the movie and I don't have a problem with that opinion though we don't share the same criticisms. I did take exception to one particular barb that Denby throws out there:
      "The training sequences with Pei Mei a haughty taskmaster living in a mountainto temple, are brutal fun, but, again, as in th presentation-of-the-sword business, Tarantino seems caught between piety and mockery Gordon Liu, a longtime star in Hong Kong martial-arts movies, wears a voluminous, wav beard and enormous eyebrows, all snow white, which make him look like an animated Chinatown doll, and when he whips his hand through his beard, in mandarin dismissal of the Bride’s abilities, he seems not powerful but ridiculous, a prancing little snit. Tarantino’s intentions in such dorky scenes are unknowable, maybe even to him, and all a critic can say is that the scenes don’t work, that the director’s judgment has gone south—that he’s become an incoherent maker of pop collage, not of cinema."

    This may seem like a minor point but while Denby partially covers himself by saying that "all a critic can say is that the scenes don't work," he oversteps himself by saying that Taaintino's intentions are "unknowable." After all, if anyone follows classic kung fu cinema even half as closely as Tarantino does, they'd know that Pai Mei is not some cinematic creation from Q's imagination but he's one of the most infamous villains from both kung fu movies as well as Chinese martial arts lore. The fact that Q gets Gordon Liu to play Pai Mei is part of an inside joke: Gordon Liu once played a hero who had to battle Pai Mei in the film Fist of the White Lotus. More importantly, in the films that Pei Mei has been a character in, he is always portrayed the same way: long, bushy eyebrows and beard and he is constantly stroking said beard and smirking. Not only that, but Q then does a quick zoom in on Pai Mei's mocking face - another staple convention that he borrows from the Shaw Bros. films of the 1970s. Anyone watching Kill Bill 2 who's ever seen Pai Mei's previous cinematic representations will recognize this gesture: it's as iconic as the Sergio Leone references strewn in the film, as The Bride stalks across an open desert. Denby picks up on that reference, which reflects his own knowledge of that "pop collage" he derides but while it's forgivable that he may not have grown up watching Executioners of Shaolin, it's astounding that he would simply dismiss the scenes with Pai Mei as "unknowable" without stopping to ask, "well, if this seems so incongruous, maybe there's a point that Tarantino was trying to make." If Denby didn't feel like following up on that, he should not have made the point to begin with.

    In other words, it's fine if, in his ignorance, the scene doesn't work for him. I'm sure there were many scenes in Kill Bill 2 that were elaborate homages to cinematic esoterica that I don't know and I may have yawned my way through it. BUT, I wouldn't be so glib as to ridicule these scenes when I know that Tarantino, inconsistent as he is, almost NEVER does anything randomly and that he specifically makes films that depend on viewers being hip to his easter eggs. In other words, the comment is lazy and it's a laziness that is instantly revealable to everyone around Denby. That's not doing your homework.

    Then again, maybe I'm just annoyed at Denby (whose work I actually usually like) for not having watched enough kung fu flicks. And you call yourself a film critic? Hurumph...

    (By the way, why I love the internet: here's a board debate about Bruce Lee vs. Pai Mei. No contest: Bruce, fools! Don't front on the Dragon, ever.)

  • Quarterwit is sponsoring a No Idea's Original Contest for the worst Nas lyrics. Lickin' mockin' shots at the QB MC? I'm with that though honestly, I instantly forget wack Nas rhymes and just focus on the hot shit: the smooth criminal on breakbeats/never play me in your box if the shit eats tapes. BLOWE!

  • Everyone just loooooooves the new documentary, Supersize Me right? Well, not everybody.
    (credit: Byron Crawford)

  • We all know Quentin Tarantino likes to reference other films in his own movies but this is just ridiculous.
    (credit: Catchdubs)

  • And I thought I really liked Jay-Z's "99 Problems" video. Not as much as much as Armand White. Here's one passage that stood out to me:
      "In 99 Problems, images and words become a wrecking ball against the familiar edifice of ghetto-fabulous determinism. 99 Problems breaks through the NYC truisms of poverty and deprivation that hiphop culture has romanticized. Romanek sees the place clearer, tougher and poetically. The cliches will no longer stand."
    Let's hope so.

    I also have to say that this, to me, is a very compelling piece of criticism. You may or may not agree with White's perspective - and he does lay on the lavish praise rather thickly, to the point where he's almost overstating the case (though I'd love to know what he thinks of the "Two Words" video), BUT his points are scalpel sharp, to the point and clearly articualte just why he thinks this is such an important moment. An admirable example of quality cultural criticism. (Note: Slumberlord disagrees and offers some salient points as well).
    (credit: Zentronix)


    welcome to the towerdome

    The second Shanghai photo-travelogue is up: City on Fire

    Monday, May 10, 2004


    imagine what we haven't seen yet

    The New Yorker reports that dogs were used to abuse Iraqi prisioners too.


    Emmitt Till case re-opened. Nearly 50 years later after his lynching.


  • J-Ho discovers Waffle House. Just say no! Undoubtably, the worst food I've ever had in my life. McDonalds is like tofu next to WH.

  • Photographer Lisa Gidley (part of a talented duo along with music writer Doug Wolk) has a fantastic online portfolio, including "Station to Station", all photos taken near subway stations. Love the concept, love that she includes the subway lines next to each photo location.
    (credit: The Music Issue)

  • Oh great, single women don't vote. Along with poor people, black people, and anyone who isn't a rich white Republican.
    (credit: The Blueprint)

  • And let me just say, Shii-Ann won a car? Damn! Who saw that shit coming? You go girl!

  • Sunday, May 09, 2004


    The first in a long-delayed set of Shanghai photo/travelogues from this spring is finally up: Sign Language.


    "how did I let my agent talk me into this?

    It hardly really matters now, considering that the movie netted 54+ million dollars this weekend but just for the record: Van Helsing SUCKED. I thought Hellboy was the worst movie experience I had since Underworld but now, the three films are all in hot competition for being complete bores and examples of how CGI has destroyed the need for such cinematic basics as: narrative, script, dialogue, etc.

    It's actually bizarre how closely VH and Underworld resemble each other; both take place in uber-gothic sets, star Kate Beckingsale, and feature a climactic battle between a bad ass werewolf and vampire. It's a little uncanny but I'm actually starting to appreciate Underworld more now; it seems to practice some actual restraint whereas VH throws the kitchen sink at the screen just to see what sticks.

    Seriously, the story on this movie is so unbelievably convoluted (not to mention deathly uninteresting) that I'm forced to deploy the ultimate cliche and call it "Frakenstein-like" in terms of how stiched together it is. The difference is that Frankenstein in the movie actually has a personality, something more than you can say for VH itself. Hugh Jackman seems to have adapted Wolverine into his monster-hunter character in this film: believe it or not, there's an actual scene where, as a werewolf, Van Helsing flexes his claws out just like Wolvie. Unbelievable. Where's Professor X? Maybe he could induce us all into forgetting that we watched this movie.

    I foresee a MASSIVE drop-off by the second week, especially since I'm assuming word of mouth is not going to be that positive about the film and the critics have uniformly hated it ( has it at 37 (out of 100). I'm not mad at all the people who went to go see it this weekend (hell, I did, right?) but anyone who sees it next week is suspect.

    On the other hand, S and I watched Ghost in the Shell again last night. It had been quite a few years since I last saw it and I had forgotten how brilliant this film was. I had also never noticed how completely and shamelessly the Wachowski Bros. had ripped the film off for The Matrix; someone owes Director Oshii a big fat royalty check. But seriously, this is an action film (albeit anime) with a real story, smart use of CGI, and compelling characters, all of which are missing from that slop job Van Helsing.


  • Speaking of vampires...Upgrade: Angel. Pardon my french but this week's eppy was the greatest of this show I've ever seen. So incredibly funny yet with pathos. I'd bemoan them cancelling the show (again) but it won't make a difference. But goddamn, how can they cancel this? It's so killer right now!

  • Why, it's almost like love. Love good for your health. Temporarily at least.

  • Interesting article from the Detroit Free Press that compares the divergent successes of William Hung and Harlemm Lee.
    (credit: Angry Asian


    Friday, May 07, 2004


    Thanks to Dino Rivera (Spintronix) for the hook-up.

    Thursday, May 06, 2004


    At least it is according to the East Bay Express' "Best of the East Bay". Hell yeah, I'll take that.

    If you didn't know I had a book, well, now you know:


    My friend Bernice introduced me to and right away, I noticed they had an interview with The Source's founder David Mays. Predictably, he doesn't back down on his position regarding the Eminem debacle that has all but destroyed the credibility of the magazine, but seriously, what could anyone have expected Mays to say? "Yeah, we fucked up pretty bad on that one, oops"?

    There are definitely some questionable statements, none greater than this line: "Eminem, I don't even know the guy. I have no personal issue with the guy." First of all, you put him on your cover. Second of all, you published a poster where Benzino is holding Em's head in his hand. That seems pretty fucking personal. Moreover, while you (Mays) may not have an issue with Eminem directly, Benzino certainly did and since he was the co-publisher, it's disingenous to say that "I have no personal issue" since you used your magazine to aid and abet someone else's personal issue.

    On the flipside, for reasons I am still trying to understand, reporter Sarah Horne never asks Mays about Benzino's role, which seems like an obvious point of entry for a place like Media Bistro. After all, doesn't it seem like a conflict of interest to have a musical artist own a half-share in a music magazine? I don't know if this was Horne's neglect or an editorial decision not to include such a question/response but it seems like an incredible oversight on someone's part.

    I don't mean to bag on Horne, but her opening statement raised my eyebrows as well: "The first time many people heard of The Source was a few months ago when the magazine made headlines for the battle with Eminem and his record label." I don't doubt there was a segment of the population that was not acquainted with The Source prior to the Eminem controversy but last I checked, the magazine still had the largest circulation of any urban music oriented magazine, including more than XXL and Vibe. Plus it's been around for 15+ years. Just beause Upper West Siders may not have heard of The Source doesn't mean that an entire generation of people didn't grow up on that magazine. Would Horne have ever written about Spin with that same presumption?

    This all said, I agree with one comment that is made by Mays:

      "There have been a number of articles lately about how hip-hop's main audience now is young white guys?stories about so-called "rap-surveillance" and the mainstreaming of hip-hop. What do you think of this?

      I think those statistics on white audiences are misleading, and I have a problem with those stories. Hip-hop has been dominantly purchased by white males since the mid-'80s. White kids got into hip-hop like I did in 1979, when "Rappers' Delight" came out by the Sugar Hill Gang. I was a 5th grade kid in D.C., hearing the song on the radio, and I was running around the playground rapping the lyrics. I can remember that. And then you had Run-DMC when they collaborated with Aerosmith for "Walk this Way" in 1985. The point is that the white audience and consumer base has driven the growth of hip-hop for 20 years now, so it's no new finding to go out and start talking about this now. I am not sure why the media has tended to do that recently.

      The majority of people today who write about hip-hop haven't been writing about it, don't understand it. They have to portray themselves as knowledgeable about it, as experts. That's one of my criticisms of the mainstream media: You can't assign people who have never dealt with hip-hop to write about it. The media has historically misreported on hip-hop and put a lot of stereotypes and misinformation out there to the masses."
    No doubt son. Now if you can just get your own house back in order and restore some honor to the name... Frankly, I think we're way past that, especially as XXL pulls a Keni Burke and keeps rising to the top.


    So take that MFers!

  • If you find horror films intriguing but scary: The Exorcist is 30 seconds. Performed by bunnies. Best thing ever.
    (credit: Just One Bite)

  • Always classic. Best watched at night. And alone.
    (credit: Pickin' Boogers)

  • Oh snap, the Blueprint's Jessica straight serves Cinco De Mayo:"Let's be honest: much like Saint Patrick's Day, Cinco de Mayo is amateur hour. If you need a Mexican holiday commemorating a victory over the French (no big deal there) to kick back a few drinks, well, you're just not drinking enough."

  • Weiner art. Not what you might think (or hope).
    (credit: Black Table)

  • Truth is stranger than fiction. That had to hurt.
    (credit: Mo Ca$h)

  • Wednesday, May 05, 2004


  • For those who can't get enough William Hung commentary (like,, my better half lays the definitive smackhand down on the subject. Read Sharon Mizota's "Can the Subaltern Sing?

  • Like you needed more reasons to think Disney and Michael Eisner are a bunch of dumb ass tools. I can't wait for the shit to hit the fan on this one.

  • File this under: What in the name of God were these ad people thinking?. WARNING: This commercial is not for the faint of heart. Well, at least not people who REALLY like cats.

  • As Intellectual Hip-Hop Commentary's Joey Pinkey sez: this site is "sick humor at its sickest." What's most bizarre about it is just the fact that someone would come up with the idea to create a rapping alter-ego for Stephen Hawking to begin with. It's like he's been puffing on some of that Madvillain weed, yaoming?

  • Paging the ACLU. It never amazes me how incredibly stupid people (yes, even teachers) can be at times.

    Also, are cell phones the new cars? Can I put spinning rims on a Nokia?

  • Tuesday, May 04, 2004


  • God has spoken. La Toya London is the Chosen One.
    Did you hear that intro on her second song? She just destroyed everybody with that. The rest of the competition can't hang. Fall back suckers, Oakland's finest is running this.

  • America finally got their act together and gave John Stevens a big, fat, steel-toed boot off the show. Make it right ya'll: this week, it's time for Diana DiGarmo to take that long walk off a short plank. Xtina's pinky clippings have more charisma than this girl. Holla back in 4 years!

  • Memo to Paula: easy on the blush, hon! You hiding zits from HDTV or what?

  • George Huff: I'm back to finding him boring. He's like someone who should have been cast on Ally McBeal back in the day, to sing at the bar, but that's as far as it goes.

  • Jasmine-Uh oh, is it Aloha time for her? The whole of Polynesia (forget just Hawaii) better represent if Trias is to last another week.

  • Fantasia-Good, solid. But she's no La Toya.

  • My man Chris Ryan is on five-alarm fire right now with his basketball blog. I don't care if you don't know the difference between Dr. J and Dr. Pepper - his recent posting (linked above) on Ron Artest is the funniest shit I've read in as long as I can remember. Wreckonize.

  • This was an interesting article about the challenges that Asian-Canadian magazines face. As a veteran of the magazine game on this side of North America, I can appreciate those struggles but I just have to say that Banana and Jasmine (the two magazines the story profiles) are some of the WORST names one could imagine for an Asian-Canadian/American magazine. What, was Jade taken? How about Twinkie?
    (credit: Angry Asian Man)

  • Tarantino helming Bond? Uma a Bond girl? Will this actually happen?

  • For get your run-of-the-mill Kegel exercises. Now it's all about the Kegelmaster 2000. Yeah, 2000 MFers, what you know about that?
    (credit: Pickin' Boogers)

  • J-Shep breaks down the new Olsen Twins movie, New York Minute. Gee, surprisingly, she didn't seem to like it. Go figure.

  • Dave Tompkins interviews Godzilla. This is so next level, heads won't really get it until 2204.
    (credit: SF/J)

  • Monday, May 03, 2004


    Holding Even: Alias-This Rimbaldi shit is wearing so thin, Versace could make a blouse out of it. Meanwhile, they're taking way to long to resolve Lauren's storyline. Either jail her, kill her, whatever but she was 10 minutes ago, 10 minutes ago. Vaughn as The Punisher? No. Vivica Fox's return? Does anyone really care? On the upside, Katja and Jack? Yes. Jack implying Vaughn needs to just whack Lauren? Yes. Sydney getting back at the Dentist? Yes. Lauren with a rocket launcher? Uh, no.

    Holding Even: The Shield-We like C.C.H. Pounder. With all the screw ups on this show, can't we have one who doesn't get made to look bad? And Mackey's liason with the dog cop? Yaaawn. I'm just waiting for Aceveda to go on the warpath. Maybe this week.

    Upgrade: The Sopranos-The bear is back - love the symbolism. Say goodbye to Johnny Sacks, this dude is so dead, he might as well just knock himself off now. Meanwhile, Meadow and her boyfriend are as exciting as lint (my god, was she always this whiny? And her boyfriend needs a backbone upgrade). Still, you have to love their self-analysis capabilities: "This point is our lives is a transition period, forced on us by external events." This all said, I really didn't see Vito smoking the pole coming down the pipeline. Point goes to David Chase. Meanwhile, Tony and Melfi have their best session in at least two, three seasons. "I'm just a f*cking robot to my own p*ssy ass weakness." Shit is real.

    Upgrade:Deadwood-Best goddamn show on television right now. If you don't know, you better ask somebody. There is not one single wasted character; this is ensemble casting at its finest. Calamity Jane is one of my favorite characters ever but she's really just the tip of a dense iceberg of incredible people to follow. If you got HBO On Demand, order the whole season - trust me.

    Holding even:Survivor All-Stars-I might have given this an upgrade, especially with how bad ass Shii-Ann has been the last two weeks (Shii-Devil indeed!) but now that it's becoming incredibly obvious that Rob and Amber are going to make the final two, it kind of takes the fun out of watching. Rob deserves to be there because he's been a wily, backstabbing bastard but what has Amber done besides look cute and innocuous?

    Holding even: Angel-Much as I enjoyed watching Eleria kick demon ass (not to mention temporary kill the entire cast) last week, her learning-how-to-accept-being-(semi)human story arc is starting to wear down fast. While I'm glad they're keeping Fred around in body (though not spirit), she's becoming more of a distraction than addition. I never thought I'd say this but I want more brooding vampire, less brooding demi-god.

    Upgrade: The Shield-Mac is back. 'Nuff said. (That plus Shane is soooo screwed).

    MY IPOD TOP 24

    As a proud member of the iPod nation, I finally figured out how to create a so-called "smart playlist" that identified my most played selections. I wrote in an earlier entry that despite having 2051 songs (slightly over 5 DAYS worth of music) loaded onto my 10GB iPod, I usually only ended up playing the same handful of songs over and over. I've long been curious to know which songs those were but never really bothered to breakdown the info but now that I finally did, here are the results for the top #24. Suffice to say, not what I expected at all:


    1. Rufus Wainwright
    Go Or Go Ahead

    9. Rufus Wainwright
    Oh What A World

    17. Beatles
    Happiness Is A Warm Gun

    2. Rufus Wainwright
    My Phone's On Vibrate For You

    10. Rufus Wainwright

    18. Beatles
    I'm So Tired

    3. Beatles
    Martha My Dear

    11. Beatles
    Long, Long, Long

    19. Ghostface Killah
    The Sun feat. Reakwon, Slick Rick, & Rza

    4. Beatles
    I Will

    12. Erma Franklin
    Piece of My Heart

    20. Jay Z
    December 4

    5. Superlatives
    I Don't Know Why

    13. The Beach Boys
    Don't Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder)

    21. Rufus Wainwright
    Comlainte De La Butte

    6. Alicia Keys
    You Don't Know My Name

    14. Beatles
    Dear Prudence

    22. Rufus Wainwright
    Vicious World

    7. Beatles

    15. Beatles
    Mother Nature's Son

    23. Rufus Wainwright
    14th Street

    8. Beatles
    Sexy Sadie

    16. Rufus Wainwright
    Across the Universe

    24. Alicia Keys
    If I Ain't Got You

    The Breakdown:

    Beatles = 9 (highest rank #3)
    Rufus Wainwright = 8 (highest rank #1)
    Everything else = 7
    Hip-Hop artists = 2 (highest ranking #19)

    Damn, this might just get my rap pass revoked.


    I'm not surprised to read this but it's still kind of can't seem to put two high-profile women together without the claws coming out. From IMDB:
      "Beyonce Knowles and Alicia Keys are reportedly on bad terms on their current Ladies First Tour - because both are grappling for star billing. The Destiny's Child star is apparently furious many critics have said Keys "steals the show", whilst Alicia is reportedly unhappy that Beyonce features far more prominently on the promotional posters for the extravaganza. A source tells Britain's "Heat" magazine, "There's barely a word exchanged between the two of them and their entourages are purposely kept separate. Beyonce is the tour headliner and Alicia feels as if she's being treated like a second class citizen." The source adds the disputes between the pop pair have got increasingly petty: "One argument between the two camps was whose bus was going to be closer to the back stage door, a distance of 40 feet at most."
    Just for the record, Alicia gets my vote for more talent but she's gotta know in this hive, Beyonce is Queen B.


  • Once again, Angry Asian Man comes through: Martin Turenne offers up an excellent analysis comparing Jin with William Hung. Yet again, it takes someone outside the API community to offer some sensible criticism for a change.

  • Thong Song appreciations. From a new blog I just discovered: Tuba City.

  • I forget where I saw this, but Christian fundamentalists are getting mad wily. This Dinosaur Adventure Land was created with the expressed purpose of reconciling the Creationism Myth with the evolutionary evidence raised by dinosaur remains. From their homepage:
      "You will discover:
       How awesome the world used to be and how it will be again very soon!
       Dinosaurs in the Bible and history!
       Dinosaurs alive today!
       Amazing fossil discoveries. See them yourself!"
    Be scurred, be very very scurred.

  • Last, and probably least, here's yours truly popping off in an interview graciously conducted by the folks at Half Time Online.

  • Sunday, May 02, 2004


  • There has been much interest in this case concerning a black high schooler charged with "aggravated child molestation" in a case of statutory rape in Georgia. A lot were aghast that this law, which has never been used before in a case of consensual, underage sex (well, the defense alleges the sex was consensual but certainly, few would call sex between a 17 and 15 year old "child molestation") was suddenly brought to bear here, especially since the defendent was black and the teenage woman in question was white. Georgia's Supreme Court overturned the conviction on the molestation charges but the vote was 4-3. WTF? What did the other 3 people think was going on?

  • Did Kanye West's College Dropout deserve 5-mics? My question: what rational folks still lend any credence to The Source's ratings, especially after the fall from grace the magazine has suffered these last few years? Kanye - the people have voted for your album's quality: stop whining dude!
    (credit: Hardly Art, Hardly Garbage)

  • Who the F is Won-G and how did this Haitian rapper get Paris Hilton to star in a video where he remakes Blondie's "Rapture". Paging Debbie Harry! Girl, you hurting for cash or what?

  • Wow, a rational story on William Hung that doesn't play the race card for once. Bravo Detroit Free Press! I had a revelation this afternoon: the reason why Asian Americans have such an issue with Hung is because of that age-old ABC vs. FOB conflict that I grew up witnessing in the 1980s. This is where ABCs (American Born Chinese) witness the kind of racism that FOBs (Fresh Off the Boat) have to contend with and rather than stand in solidarity with their persecuted brethren, they try to distance themselves as far as possible from their immigrant peers, even to the point of ridiculing them too. David Henry Hwang captured some of this tension in his play, F.O.B. but you can find it at any high school where there's a large community of both American-born and foreign-born people of the same ethnic group. I think it's telling that Hung is cheered in Asian cities like Singapore and Hong Kong: they see Hung as "one of theirs" whereas many of America's APIs see Hung as the embodiment of everything they've spent their lifetimes trying to escape. Oh, the irony that America's two biggest Asians are both unabashed immigrants: Yao Ming and Hung. Reality check twinkies!

  • Even though I didn't get a chance to spin (what kind of DJ set-up doesn't have two turntables? WTF?) at last night's Quannum World Tour show, the event was off the ching-a-ling, especially considering Lyrics Born stepped to the stage with rip-away sweatpants and rhymed for two songs rocking his boxers. Plus, DJ Shadow debuted how to properly put a DVD turntable in full e-f-f-e-c-t. I thought Quannum's revue-style performance schedule was a smart way to balance all those acts by rotating a new artist every song or two.

  • Was there a lynching in Mississippi? Or was it a suicide? If you saw the body of a black man hanging from a tree, which would you presume? Yeah, exactly.

  • Is Evelyn Ng the Jeanette Lee of poker?

  • This may not stay up too long but in yet another example of eBay magic, one must see this auction for a used wedding dress. Best thing ever.
    (credit Weapons of Mass Distraction)

  • Bulletproof armor...for dogs. The Milkman better strap up too now.


    Contrary to the idea that we're sexless, Asian Americans are apparently rutting around at a prodigious rate considering that APIs are the fastest growing ethnic group in America. Ok, ok, it's not all through reproduction but immigration that our numbers are swelling, but by 2050, the API population is projected to hit around 33 million, fueled in large part from countries like India and Vietnam (hey, wait a minute - aren't these the same countries where we're outsourcing American jobs to? It'd be ironic for Indians to move out here, only to realize that their neighbors back home just got the computer programming job they were hoping for. Ah, the magic of global capitalism).

    As usual, The Melting Blog is on top of this. Read his short analysis but also make sure to check for Thomas Tseng's discussion of "New Chinatowns" that are spring up across America. He points out that with the case of example of Las Vegas' immensely successful Chinatown Plaza,
      "places like Chen's Chinatown Plaza are now being replicated by like-minded pioneers in new residential subdivisions across the country -- places where, though there may not be a densely concentrated Asian community, there are enough patrons willing to traverse relatively lengthy distances for a small taste of home. Subsequently, these "New Chinatowns" have become the catalyst for further economic development, as consumers begin purchasing homes and forming communities in proximity to them."
    Field of dreams for real: build it and they will come (so long as "it" is a 99 Ranch Supermarket and not a baseball diamond).