I’m back in the San Gabriel Valley to have dinner with a good friend. Ivy—she’s just moved back from two years teaching English in Korea, and she’s living temporarily in our hometown of Arcadia while contemplating her next move. I live only about 30 miles away on the Westside of LA, but my parents have moved away from the area, and now I rarely make it back. It’s a chance to get my hair cut by an Asian lady, stock up at the Chinese grocery store, and see what’s changed.Continue 》
Deftly avoiding a sophomore slump, the Vulture Festival was back in Los Angeles for the second year in a row, and this year’s lineup was just as jam-packed as the inaugural iteration. Not only did the festival host conversations with cultural icons such as Cynthia Nixon and Busy Philipps, but it also had panels with new fan faves such as Constance Wu (Fresh Off the Boat and Crazy Rich Asians) and Lana Condor (To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before and Syfy’s Deadly Class), as well as a handful of pretty nutty feature events—improvised musical podcast taping with special guest Rachel Bloom, anyone? Read on for some of Dinner Party’s favorites from Day One.Continue 》
This essay was originally published by the literary journal Rock & Sling in Vox, a special edition issue on the 2016 presidential election. You can get your hands on this issue, as well as the upcoming Vox II: American Identities by visiting their online store.
“You can color in the bubbles for me,” Courtland offered, sliding the ballot across our kitchen table.
I looked at him, horrified. “That’s fraud!”
“Only joking,” he said. “I’ll let you wear the sticker though.” He held up the small white oval stuck to his thumb.Continue 》
For the record: I loved the film adaptation of Kevin Kwan’s bestselling novel. I’m a self-professed romantic comedy junkie who frequently gets suckered into watching any movie even remotely resembling the genre. On top of that, I’m an Asian American constantly tip-toeing the line between being “too Asian” in some contexts and “not Asian enough” in others. I am this movie’s target demographic.
That said, I also grew up in the Philippines during the era of Flor Contemplacion. For those unfamiliar, Contemplacion was a Filipino domestic worker who was charged with murder and executed by the Singaporean government. Her death caused a political firestorm, souring relations between the Philippines and Singapore for years after, as well as sparking a renewed interest in the treatment of OFWs and the intersection of class, ethnicity, and power in the geopolitical sphere. Needless to say, I’m always curious to see how—but more often than not, if—filmic portrayals address this tangled web of issues.
And so, although I cherish the opportunity to watch a glitzy Hollywood rom-com starring a bunch of people who look a lot like me—I think it’s worth spending the time to take stock of the discussions surrounding Crazy Rich Asians, both good and bad. Because even if it didn’t rake in over $160 million at the box office, the film still has all the trappings of a movie that launches a thousand think pieces—and thankfully not the kind that has to explain “Whitewashing 101.” Read on for a small, curated slice of these conversations, from articles criticizing the film’s treatment of ethnic minorities in Singapore to writers celebrating the fact that this movie has moved us along just enough that we’re now able to discuss the delicate nuances of Asian identity in a global context.Continue 》
Representation matters. We’ve certainly discussed it before on the site, and I’m not planning on stopping anytime soon. And if you don’t believe me, or even the experts, take it from Dinner Party’s Ladies We Love alumna Emily Lee. Even after touring the world as a musician, as well as working on the music for an Oscar-nominated documentary, she still finds herself moved, and perhaps a bit spellbound, by fellow rocker Mitski’s success—so much so that she requested if I could maybe not print the exact number of how many times she’s seen—and cried at—Mitski’s shows.
Along with my friend and fellow Asian American feminist Willa Zhang, I caught up with Emily in Los Angeles on one of her first stops on tour with new band Loma. Read on for more about New York vs. Los Angeles, post-election politics, and three Asians unapologetically geeking out over getting a taste of representation.Continue 》
When I was an undergraduate, I had a crazy idea to try and interview one of my favorite musicians, Jonathan Meiburg of Shearwater. We had both attended the same small liberal arts college, tucked away in the deep forests of the Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee, and as a senior and editor-in-chief of our college newspaper (which he once ran himself), my thought was, “Why the hell not?” Little did I know that a few years and a handful of Shearwater shows later, that conversation would not only lead to a new friendship, but even more opportunities to get to know some absolutely amazing folks.
Emily Lee currently plays the keyboard and provides backup vocals for Shearwater. After witnessing her hypnotic on-stage presence (and being inspired by her killer vintage style) at the Roxy in Los Angeles, I had a feeling she’d be a perfect interview for this column. Lee was kind enough to take some time from her Shearwater duties—which currently involve a cover of David Bowie’s Lodger (in its entirety) for A.V. Club’s Undercover series—to talk music, mentors, and being one of two badass minority ladies in the band.Continue 》