Monday, April 25, 2016

A Petition in Honor of 'The Purple One': 'Creating Safe Public Spaces for All Genders'

Celebrate difference. The petition, "Creating Safe Public Spaces for All Genders," recognizes Prince's contribution to social culture in the United States of America. Please click on the link, sign the petition, and share. Only 99,999 signatures are needed by May 22, 2016 in order for The White House to review this petition. Make your voice count.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Watching "The Interview": #Whatever

Greetings comrades.

So. If you have not yet seen the latest Rogen-Franco movie "The Interview," then you may be missing out on what may be the biggest public relations campaign, or hoax, since the H.G. Wells saga The War of the Worlds. I first heard the Wells radio play when I was a public-radio listening youngster growing up in the Appalachians -- a region of the United States not known for alien invasions. (No way are aliens gonna find a place to land in our state -- no flat land! Nice job, though, Mr. Wells.) I loved the radio play, and could not get over the fact that this genius had made it seem as though Martians were going to take over the world. (Ahhh!) 

Fast forward to Christmas 2014. 

The media would have us believe that an independent movie about a head of state who is also a cultural icon, of sorts, for his hair and his enthusiasm for basketball, would be so offended as to wage war against the U.S. showing this movie.

Flash forward to the last Presidential press conference of the year ...

Even President Obama fields questions at his end of the year press conference on the topic of censorship and freedom related to the movie The Interview. First, the media enthralled us with stories of a wild hacking incident at Sony pictures by #thegop -- The Guardians of Peace. 

Then, there is the plot line of the movie itself: a journalist and his producer fly to China and then to Pyongyang to interview the head of state -- a wildly iconic present-day figure in his own right -- Kim Jong-un. Meanwhile, the United States' FBI named North Korea as the likely suspect behind the Sony hack.

What? I know, right? Crazy, crazy, and awesome marketing, non

So, of course I knew I had to watch this movie, even though I feared it might be stupid. Then, I realized that I had never even seen a Rogen-Franco movie, and that all I know about them is that the duo spoofed Kim Kardashian and Kanye West in the video "Bound 2".

I only stomached the original video by the married dynamic duo once, but I watched the spoof more than once. Therefore, I felt confident that watching "The Interview" on Christmas-day with my dad and my friend from China would yield at least a moderate laugh.

I should also note that I tried to download the movie on Christmas Eve, but got a peculiar message which you can see in the photo-collage below. However, this error could have been due to the fact that I tried downloading the movie from a Mac. The next night, I tried a PC and I ba-boom!

My overall assessment of this movie? 


But the movie features show-stealer Diana Bang as Kim-family liaison "Sook". 

So, I am happy to have only paid 5.99 to rent this movie for a total of 48-hours through YouTube.

There you have it!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Sarai Koo Places Seoul Food: A Korean American Living in Los Angeles at Vroman's Pasadena & Hasting's Ranch

PASADENA -- Quiclkly surveying the buslting Vroman's Bookstore, the woman in black bustles through the book aisles scoping out the best location for her new book. She is Sarai Koo, a Los Angeleno, whose passion for relationship-building and storytelling builds bridges. 

Sarai Koo, an American woman of Korean ancestry, interrogates the myth of the "model minority" with poignancy and humor in her first book, Seoul Food: A Korean American Living in Los Angeles. This book is a contemporary memoir of a young woman's ability to define herself despite pressures to conform. 

Among the topics Koo takes on include body image and beauty standards, educational institutions, overcoming the aftermath of the 1990s LA riots, and, of course, food -- Seoul food. 

Although my personal opinion of this book may be biased due to my acquaintance with the author, the book's biggest strength is that it shows the complexity of the LA-Pico Rivera community during the 1980s and 90s and beyond making this book a natural read for historians and urban planners, as well as anyone interested in culture.

I'm looking forward to chatting with Sarai Koo about what prompted her to write her memoir, so "stay tuned".

The book is available at Vroman's Bookstore Pasadena and Hasting's Ranch, and on Amazon. 

Get a copy!

Urban Planners Sharing Stories: thrdPlace Meets The Edge at Base Camp

Silicon Beach, CA -- Among the kind and talented who converged on NextSpace for the Immigration reform talk sponsored by this past Tuesday, was a representative from thrdPlace, an urban planning/community organizing team led by DeKoven Ashley and Mike Colosimo. As this interview with Carrie Norton, founder and CEO of Green Business Base Camp, demonstrates, Ashley and Colosimo prove that growth is a social and a local process of engagement. I wore my OFA hat, to listen and learn about how urban initiatives are re-shaping the world of work. The new world, I learned, is built on the simple premise, as Ashley and Colosimo state, of showing up and not being afraid to share stories in an effort to build a bright future.

Friday, May 9, 2014

A Labeling Machine

The machine.
Photo Credit: (Gail Taylor, 2010). American Apparel labeling machine, at the factory in downtown Los Angeles.

It makes our lives simpler. Distracting, irritating, yes. Therefore, the aftermath of progress, may simply be getting re-acquainted with ourselves and our work.

If Marx and Engels were concerned about the alienation of the worker from his/her work, then what could be the antidote to this distancing? Another question might be: What would be a cultural politics, today? 

Consider, radical self-reflexivity. In The Kristeva Reader, Julia Kristeva writes, "Another generation is another space," Kristeva, a French theorist, considered the new way that political entities disenfranchised from power will interact with creators of knowledge and knowledge-structures in a globalized world. She said, "Another generation is another space," (209). And one of Kristeva's strengths in this essay is that she is intentional about speaking about space from a Western perspective. The Western-mode of segmentation as process is contestable. Especially today, when leisure appears to be the default mode.

Consider, introversion as method as the machine roars on.


Saturday, February 22, 2014

Above the Fold

Race, class, privilege, gender, sex, and, power take center stage in ABOVE THE FOLD, a Pasadena Playhouse world premiere, by Bernard Weinraub, starring Taraji P. Henson as "Jane," a New York-based newspaper reporter. When Jane's editor, "Marvin," played by Arye Gross, sends her to the South to cover a political campaign, her plans quickly change when shortly after arriving, she learns of the alleged rape of a stripper by members of a fraternity. She gets the scoop from a prosecuting attorney and politician, "Lorne," played by Mark Hildreth. Through this play, the audience is confronted with the myriad ethical challenges reporters face.

To what degree is the story that runs above the fold representative of the story needing to be told? This question becomes a dominant theme. A sub-theme is the degree to which one's future is determined by personal decisions and societal stereotypes and conventions. 

Jane confronts her own identity, as well as her own vulnerability, as she writes stories about the alleged crime. The audience must decide if she is out for glory, eager to have a story printed above above the fold (the upper half of a newspaper), or eager to seek the truth, or both. Her integrity at stake, Jane wrestles with her boss, her interviewees, and her own conscience. 

Kudos to the lighting and set design team. The technology-heavy set, with a huge rendering of a smartphone, a ticker, and a television screen broadcasting the latest headlines, reminds the audience of the way print journalism competes with the immediacy of social media and websites.

The Weinraub script addresses the complexity of an African American woman's way in the world, as opposed to place in society. As a result, ABOVE THE FOLD may leave audiences uneasy, but empathetic.