Power and Politics - I am Not the Yellow Peril

The life and times of an Asian American activist who tells all the truth (and dishes news and analysis) but with a leftwards slant.

Sunday, December 30, 2007


Cleaned up some dead links, and added A VC. And then Cat and Girl and I Can Has Cheezburger? because well, I need the funnies. Added Jezebel, mostly because Moe's cynical, hipper than thou, chiding, whipsmart, crackling prose reminds me of Wonkette Emeritus before she cleaned up and fed herself to the dogs of American Media.

Don't believe me? Read Moe's take on working at American Apparel.

This also led to realization that my blogroll has 3 Nick Denton sites. It's like the Gawker empire was MTV back in the good old days. Ie, all over my life. But I gotta say, for someone who has been in flight hell, and for those of you who are going to be in flight hell, Consumerist gets you through it. For those of you braving the unfriendly skies this holiday season, it's worth a gander.

Am pigging out on homemade pancit. It is damn delicious. Holiday pounds melt away in the new year like so many resolutions, right?

Update: Was digging through and apparently I am linked and quoted in something called Debatepedia, on the question of:

Securing border?: Will a 700-mile fence help stop illegal immigration?

What's surreal is that I'm linked to under the YES column. It quotes mostly a list of surprising Democrats who voted for building a 700 mile fence between the US and Mexico.

I think Debatepedia is an interesting project, but I also think it should be evident to anyone who read that blog post that I am pro-immigrant, hence the scorn for Democrats who voted yes, but didn't have to, including called Feinstein and Boxer "a disappointment" and chiding them to "Grow a spine!"

So I guess I'm glad that this resource exists, but folks, please check your facts and sources better. I'm hardly on the anti-immigrant side.


Saturday, December 29, 2007

Economy vs. Security - Dems vs. GOP

With Iowa happening in just a few short days, the question becomes - are we as a nation now security voters? And if so, what kind?

It's said that fear is one of the strongest and most primal emotions, that it can override the logical cortex.

NYT: The political brain

So it could be said that Democrats are playing on fear as well, the fear of voters that the economy is going straight down the tubes, and with it our savings, pensions, homes, and jobs. What else is left?

Economic insecurity - polls indicate voter anxiety (NYT).

Also, you know it's bad when the banks are tearing each other up over trying to land some capital in Asia, and Citibank says they may have to lay off 32,000 people, and Bank of America STOPS SUPPLYING BATHROOM SOAP as a cost-cutting measure!!!! (Also, they should realize that from a public sanitation standpoint, more folks will probably spread germs and diseases and you'll lose more productive employee hours cos more workers will get sick, but that would only be logical thinking right?) Watch this hilarious CNBC anchor trash BofA and tear them apart for picking on the little guys. Gotta love the class warfare from the propagators of consumerism. (Great find via www.americablog.com)

Also, for those of you who are caught in flight hell, or will be, here's pilot Patrick Smith's perspective on the "security follies." A bunch of complex mumbo jumbo and legalistic dancing around what is really important. I used to read his stuff all the time on salon.com - man has it perfectly and concisely and lays it all out. I would love to see more input from frontline workers on how to develop security policy at airports.

(Ugh, this was supposed to be a much longer piece but Iowa is on our doorsteps. I say this as though it was some orphan child in a basket. But no, really, I have a lot more enthusiasm for it...)

Harvard Redefines the Middle Class

I am all in support of Harvard's initiatives to replace loans with grants for students from middle class families (they made that mark for families making $60,000 and under.) I think it absolutely lifts the burden on families who really can't afford the cost of paying $45,000 or more per year, since that would be 75% of their pre-tax incomes. That was a game-changer that led to other elite institutions revising their financial aid for middle class families, and many of those schools couldn't even afford to do it for families up to the $60,000 mark (which when I was growing up was considered borderline upper-middle class.) I was also hugely in favor of their elimination of early action, which has been gamed to benefits those who have the tutors and college counselors and teachers all lined up to drop one finely-tuned application package by D-Day. It was all escalating into some bizarro Cold War. I heard of kids applying to 26 schools via Early Action. (Yeah, and I'm definitely laying some of the blame on you model minority types - you know who you are.)

Now Harvard has pioneered another financial aid move (Harvard announces sweeping middle-income initiative) whereby they significantly expand financial aid to families making as much as $180,000 a year.
The “Zero to 10 Percent Standard”: Harvard’s new financial aid policy dramatically reduces the amount families with incomes below $180,000 will be expected to pay. Families with incomes above $120,000 and below $180,000 and with assets typical for these income levels will be asked to pay 10 percent of their incomes.
'Scuse me?!?!? $180,000 a year doesn't put you in the middle class. It makes you rich. I'm sorry, I could have sworn that families who make $180,000 qualify as the top 5% of households in this country.

And according to the 2005-2006 US Census, they do.

Household income distribution
Bottom 10% Bottom 20% Bottom 25% Middle 33% Middle 20% Top 25% Top 20% Top 5% Top 1.5% Top 1%
$0 to $10,500 $0 to $18,500 $0 to $22,500 $30,000 to $62,500 $35,000 to $55,000 $77,500 and up $92,000 and up $167,000 and up $250,000 and up $350,000 and up
SOURCE: US Census Bureau, 2006; income statistics for the year 2005

Part of the reason that this is even controversial is because nowadays, everybody feels like they belong to the middle class. According to a 2004 PBS Special "Who is the Middle Class?" (that's right, we all feel squeezed so we need a news organization to tell us.)
[T]he Census Bureau shows the middle 20% of the country earning between $40,000 and $95,000 annually. The Drum Major Institute for Public Policy, a non-partisan and non-profit organization, reports that the middle class has conventionally come to mean families with incomes between $25,000 and $100,000 each year.

But if you ask the American people, you'll get yet another response. According to statistics from the National Opinion Research Center, as reported by Baker, large numbers of American define themselves as "working class" or "middle class," including:

  • 50% of those families who earn between $20,000 and $40,000 annually
  • 38% of those families who earn between $40,000 and $60,000 annually
  • 16.8% of those families who earn over $110,000 annually
Here's the thing - I think Harvard is doing exactly the right thing in terms of no loans, and I applaud what they did with middle income families. But when you extend financial aid to families who even make beyond $200,000, as their press release states, then I think that there is something seriously weird going on. It's one thing when you have a family who makes $100,000 and they have 3 kids in college - it's definitely a stretch to afford all of that when college even at state schools is considered a bargain for $30,000 a year. I highly endorse taking all of that into account, or if people are making $150,000 a year but they have to pay $100,000 to the HMO because Mom has cancer, but that's no reason to create a broad policy where you give rich people financial aid. FINANCIAL AID IS SUPPOSED TO LEVEL, NOT DESTROY, THE PLAYING FIELD.

And I think Harvard is erasing all the good it did with its initial $40,000 bar which was raised to $60,000 last year by tripling the financial aid floor to $180,000 since it will effectively crowd out all the actually middle and lower class students.

The New York Times story, Harvard’s Aid to Middle Class Pressures Rivals, raises this possibility but buries it toward the middle (and repeat after me: $100k and above is upper middle class, if not upper class):

Some administrators say there will now be pressure to provide more merit aid to relatively wealthy high achievers, reducing the amount available to poorer students.

“It could lead to schools’ doing this sort of thing because they want to be part of the top group,” David W. Oxtoby, president of Pomona College in California, said of Harvard’s move. If that meant those colleges had to reduce the number of their low-income students, Dr. Oxtoby said, “that would be terrible, exactly the wrong outcome.” (Pomona itself, where full costs are more than $45,000, does not provide merit aid.)

Some academics who study higher education predict that Harvard’s decision may even reduce economic diversity at Harvard itself, even though the university already allows any admitted student from a family earning $60,000 or less to attend virtually free of charge.

Donald E. Heller, director of the Center for the Study of Higher Education at Pennsylvania State University, said that if Harvard’s new aid program encouraged more middle- and upper-middle-income students to apply, then the number of slots for low-income applicants in an entering class would probably decline.

“They’re just going to get crowded out,” Dr. Heller said.

Even the schools that consider themselves top tier who also have endowments of over $1 Billion are going to find themselves hard-pressed to follow suit. (And the list of schools that could and did adopt no loans for ACTUAL middle class families is pretty small - Yale, Princeton, University of Pennsylvania, Amherst, Swarthmore, Williams) So basically Harvard did some good for lower income and middle income folks, which they are erasing now by extending financial aid to rich people. It makes a mockery of financial aid - maybe this is what the neo-conservatives were hoping for all along, to be able to say, "Look at Harvard, they're giving welfare to the academic equivalent of welfare queens."

I am a pretty bleeding heart liberal. I cry for the oppressed and I fight for those who don't always have the ability to speak up for themselves. But our country is pretty fucked up if rich people are seriously having this hard of a time paying for their kids' college education. And if that's the case, cry me a fucking river. Because I grew up in an ACTUAL middle class family, and I STILL have student loans. Ideally, no one would have student loans, and my super smart friends wouldn't be working on Wall St or in miserable lawyer jobs, but if your family has close to $200,000 a year, you should pay your fucking share. Because you are NOT middle class, and don't even fool yourself. It makes a mockery of people who work 2 or 3 jobs or 80 hours a week just to come up with $25,000 a year to say that people who make 7 times as much are also included in the same category, and it downplays the trend of the shrinking middle class which is unfortunately picking up steam under the Bush administration. So where is Harvard's financial aid expansion going to stop? Is it going to start giving alms to families making $300,000 a year?!? What about those unfortunate souls who only make a cool half mil?

Next we should just start shoveling it out to the pretentious twits like Kelly Tripplehorn at tripplehorny@hotmail.com, and this guy I knew in college whose parents ran an international restaurant biz who declared himself "independent" of his parents' vast wealth so that he could get financial aid. Meanwhile I knew this other guy who is now in the Army, who had grown up an orphan, and actually didn't have any family who was receiving decent financial aid. So let's see, who is ACTUALLY deserving in this situation?!?

I mean, one of these days, I hope to be in the $120,000-$180,000 household salary range. And I will probably say this while sipping tea out of my finest china with a crooked pinkie finger, "Oh, but my money doesn't go far enough. I have this nice car and that nice car, and well, little Johnny absolutely must maintain his oboe, Latin, and fencing lessons, not to mention we have to keep him well-rounded by going on several vacations to different Third World countries every year. It keeps him modest, doncha know? Keeps the lil' brat grateful for what he has. And we need to maintain our country club membership and the pied a tierre in Paris. I just can't fathom paying even a tenth of our income so that lil' Johnny can get a fine education, even though if I would just cut back on my ladies' luncheons or my tickets to the Opera, we would be fine. Plus I really can't allow Mitzy to outdo me at the Black and White Charity Auction. It would just cast such a pallor on my philanthropic year and the girls would just stop inviting me over for high tea, and we can't have that, can we?"

Of course, the amount that is considered middle class by that time will probably be $300,000 and I will only be lower middle class, even though the 50th percentile of people in America will probably be making much less than the current median of $45,000. Because all the people who are in the know and are decision and taste-makers will just look down on their friends who are only making $180,000. And I invite my friends to break my currently non-existent but soon to be future Limoges china over my head if I ever talk like that.
For some public universities, Harvard’s move provided a rationale to argue for more state assistance to hold the line on student costs. Robert J. Birgeneau, chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley, where total costs are roughly $25,000, said, “My intention, frankly, is to use the Harvard announcement to try to exert pressure on the government of California to increase resources for financial aid.”
And it's true that this will cause a shift in fin aid resources for other schools. Just as Harvard shifted the paradigm toward educational justice, now it shifts it toward insanity. This IS the new Cold War of college tuition. And this move will benefit a very tiny slice of the upper class families who it pertains to, since most colleges aren't going to have the means to do this. But it will broadly impact everyone negatively.
Nearly half of all college-qualified low- and middle-income students will not go to a four-year college because of financial barriers. Of that group, 42% will not go to college at all, according to a June 2002 report by the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance, which advises Congress.

. . . As grant money covers an ever-smaller portion of costs, the temptation for colleges is to serve fewer poor students. That's because public colleges need to keep up their enrollment to gain state funding. And they can enroll several middle- to upper-middle class students with the same amount of financial aid they might have to provide to just one lower-income student.

"It takes less to attract the students further up the income scale, so it's a pretty smart deal for the college," said Jerry Davis, vice president of research for the Lumina Foundation.

At UW-Madison, the percentage of students who came from families in the top income quintile, meaning they are wealthier than four-fifths of all families, has risen from 30.6% of students in 1990 to 38.4% today. (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)

So instead of using their bully pulpit and $35B endowment to help the middle class broadly (for example by making public universities more affordable), Harvard is going to make one of the most elitist (and elite) institutions in the country more affordable for rich people and be able to take their pick of the cream of the crop at all income levels. They want to be able to skim off of the Talented Tenth and let everybody else get screwed. It's so stereotypically white liberal guilt - to throw some money at the problem, be able to surround yourself with handpicked tokens, and then to claim that you're doing something about the "problem." Is it any wonder that while Harvard fiddles with its checkbook, the city below the Ivory Tower burns? Fuck that. I don't buy into this framing of $180,000 household incomes as being "middle class" because that ain't reality.

I haven't read something that is so patently ridiculous in awhile. Because the folks over at Harvard and the New York Times certainly live in bubbles if they consider $120,000-$180,000 "middle class." And it makes me glad that John Edwards is talking about the Two Americas and the shrinking middle class this election. Talk about shrinking the middle class, they are not just single handedly redefining it, they are making it invisible. Soon colleges will forget that there are even families who make under $60,000 much less $25,000.

It's just a matter of time.

[Edited from yesterday to include more ranting.]

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Letterman reaches deal with Writers Guild

This is pretty cool and HUGE, because this way the writers can hope to fragment the media companies (not a huge chance but good luck and a step forward.)

It sucks that they haven't been able to do the same with with Colbert, who I am still on record as supporting for President, and with Jon Stewart, because we kinda NEED their rapier wits to skewer the GOP over this next year. (Please please please let's get this thing settled by the start of GOP convention - there's so much material there, especially since Larry Craig hoisted his infamous petard in the Minneapolis airport!!! We could say that the GOP candidate has a wide stance on [pick your issue cos they all flip-flop routinely.])

Of course, neither Colbert nor Stewart own their own production companies, and are being forced to return to work, without their writers. So maybe this will push them in that direction, as they are mightier than most real pundits, as voted by the Associated Press. (Read the AP story for a damn fine tribute to Colberto, the anti-Alberto.)

But I'm enthused because it shows that the Guild is willing and able to make deals and also play hardball. I buy blue, and I try my darnedest to vote with my cash and to take my business to progressive companies that honor my business. As the United Hollywood blog says:

Like the waiver for the SAG awards, it lets people know that, when we are able to, we honor those who honor us.

(Trust me, I have been in both airline and wireless provider hell for the past few weeks. I will GLADLY pay extra to find companies in both fields that meet my needs and provide ACTUAL customer service without screwing their workers. Strangely the two often coincide - for some reason companies that think it's worthwhile to treat their employees right get employees who are willing and able to treat the customers right. Full circle, you know? Southwest is one that does it right, and American Airlines is currently on my shit list.)

So I'm glad to see that Letterman and Ferguson, both of whom are more on the progressive side of things, are getting a decided market advantage, and that it's one which honors the writers. Imagine that the writers actually got a friggin' voice in all this, that they might be able to use this power to divide and conquer versus being divided and conquered, which is usually what happens.

Because at some point, all the media companies who need to shill their movie stars and the conglomerates who need to promote their books and gadgets and gizmos aplenty are going to be burning up the lines to place their clients on TV. And since most stars are unwilling to cross the picket lines, but are willing to elbow out their competition, producer's lines for these two talk shows are going to start burning up, right about now. Laeta over at United Hollywood says it all better than I ever could, including these key grafs:
Leno, Conan, Kimmel and others have been staunch supporters of the writers, even digging into their own pockets to pay their non-writing crews. The sacrifice they’ve made by staying out this long in support of writers is an incredible thing. But unlike Letterman, who can thumb his nose at CBS because he owns his own company, the other late-night hosts are effectively hostage to the position of their employers, like NBC and ABC.

And since all the hosts are being forced to go back in January anyway, the income stream they provide to the conglomerates will come back no matter what, albeit (we hope) reduced by advertisers rebelling.

So denying Letterman a deal wouldn’t actually have deprived CBS of a revenue stream. At best, it would have reduced the revenue stream. And again, tremendous advertiser pressure will now be put on NBC and ABC to settle this.

. . . This is the kind of behavior that Wall Street often rewards. But that doesn’t make it actually good for business, much less for the people who make the product the business relies on for its profits.

We want to go back to work, and we want the town back to work – with a fair deal for everyone. Personally, although I know there will be frustration for some members that we made this deal, I think it was the right thing to do.

When one of the majors comes to the table and makes a deal – and I hope they will – odds are that I won’t be one of the writers who gets to go back to work. I won’t like it, because I have a movie in preproduction right now that I've had to walk off of. But I’ll live with it, if it serves the larger good of all of us getting coverage.
I'll just add that Letterman is really pissed at CBS because they want to replace him in 2009 with Conan, so he has lots of impetus to screw the eye. (Sounds nasty, I apologize.) But also that his added cachet what with being able to draw higher ratings with his writing staff in place might change that game plan as well, and I wouldn't be surprised if he didn't consider that factor.

But this is excellent news, a nice way to start the New Year and it gives me hope. Plus it gives me some light at the end of this very long and depressing tunnel called the winter doldrums. Please for the love of god, don't make me face the bizarre global warming storms that keep me indoors without SOME kind of quality entertainment!!! Apart from re-watching Arrested Development, I just don't know what I am going to do. Maybe I'll brave the long lines, stand outside, and buy a Wii if I can get one. Am desperate for entertainment and means of procrastination!!! So desperate I started blogging regularly again . . .

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Friday, December 28, 2007

McHuckabee: What I don't want for Christmas

Yeah, I know we're kinda past that date. But here's what I'm pretty deathly afraid of - a McCain-Huckabee ticket. Back when McCain was actively imploding and had to reduce its staff by a third, I was relieved, because I see him as one of the biggest threats in a general election. Now Republicans, sick of EVERYONE in their field, are coming back around to McCain (per politicalwire.)
Robert Novak: "Sen. John McCain, given up for dead a few weeks ago as he ran a cash-starved, disorganized campaign, today is viewed by canny Republican professionals as the best bet to win the party's presidential nomination. What's more, they consider him their most realistic prospect to buck the overall Democratic tide and win the general election. Indeed, if Mike Huckabee holds on to actually win the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses, the road forward could be clear for McCain."

Meanwhile, the Washington Times notes the "once nearly bankrupt campaign" of McCain "was negotiating yesterday to charter a fleet of 'Straight Talk Express' buses for use in early primary states."
Why are GOP insiders coming back to the horse they staunchly rejected in 2000 for Dubya?
1) Because one of the original top candidates, Mr. 9/11liani is sick and wouldn't release health records, which kind of freaks out most people who worry that he will keel over on the campaign trail, not to mention his drag-wearing, gay-befriending, taxpayer-aided affair-flaunting ways. If you've got nothing to hide, why wait?!?

2) Because the Christian conservative base is freaking out about Romney the Mormon and can't stop talking about or thinking about this one part of him. Also, he's not ready for primetime. Plus he's the original flip-flopper, much like someone else from his home state, he supported abortion rights and attended a Planned Parenthood fundraiser Cos well, some of the Christian right could overlook him being from what they consider to be a cult and all, but donating to Planned Parenthood crosses the line.

3) And because McCain's not totally crazy, unlike some of the other Republican candidates, and because his "maverickness" and willingness to deviate from GOP boilerplate makes him a more attractive candidate to undecided and independent voters. Of course, this is before McCain decided to run as Bush 2.0 and try to pull a Hillary and claim the mantle of legitimacy in an election cycle when even Repubs are running as far away as they can from Bush's legacy of failed empire. In fact he's so not crazy and instead crazily strategic that he ditched his one defining characteristic as an independent to hitch his wagon to the Bush caravan, which keeps careening over the edge into the canyon. Repeatedly. (Imagine some M. C. Escher depiction of Manifest Destiny with 2 cowboys, a burning caravan, and lots of picturesque rugged landscape - canyon after canyon - as soon as you think you've gone over the edge, you see another canyon.)

And sure, McCain is steadfast. So steadfast that he hasn't changed his mind on anything from immigration (let's see, former sponsor of immigration reform - the McCain-Kennedy bill - turned neo-xenophobe.) Come on, your name was ON the (sorta) pro-immigrant bill as a lead sponsor. Now you're all, "I don't know him, he doesn't ride with me?" How ridiculous can you get? At least he's sticking with his guns and standing up against torture. Because at least that's not too controversial a position - who is going to stick their neck out and say "Hey, I'm pro-torture!"

(Well, apparently, a whole slew of the current field is pro-torture. Not sure how this is a Christian sentiment though.)

But this initial pro-immigrant stance is what would make Huckabee a good running mate for McCain. Huckabee was pro-DREAM Act, before he was against it. Huckabee provides political cover for the Christian right, as a former pastor. And McCain has even publicly stated that he and Huckabee get along well.
Sen. John McCain's strategists "are openly boosting Mike Huckabee in the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses as their candidate's best hope for winning the New Hampshire primary five days later," Robert Novak reports.

"Reports have been leaked that McCain personally likes Huckabee and dislikes Mitt Romney. Apart from personal preference, the McCain camp acknowledges that a Romney victory in Iowa may trigger a win in New Hampshire and a chance to sweep subsequent primaries. The McCain insiders feel Huckabee will not be a serious candidate even if he defeats Romney in Iowa." (Political Wire)
Combined, the McHuckabee is like some god-awful ideal Republican monster, at least from my perspective, it's the last thing I would want to send our eventual Democratic ticket up against.

McCain provides the foreign policy heft, and Huckabee the "awshucks" common man factor and charisma that would be the most formidable GOP ticket in my estimation. Plus McHuckabee sounds like some kind of McDonald's special 2 for 1 offer, or their latest Sausage-syrup hybrid designed for the lowest common demoninator [pun intended], designed to appeal to all your bizarre fringe tastes. Here you can satisfy your NRA needs for your home-schooled kids and your foreign policy hawkness to the Christian base. One stop, hopefully stoppable shop.

To clarify in LOLspeak: DO NOT WANTZ McHUCKABEEZ!

Of course, McCain might actually wind up the GOP presidential nominee, since the Republicans seem to be stuck in a cycle kinda like our 2004 - low buzz or enthusiasm for candidates, culminating in a "Must stop Candidate X" coalition that props up some candidate who earlier had trouble making payroll. Kerry actually had to self-finance his campaign with a new $6 million mortgage on his home. Of course, if he had known then what he knows now, he wouldn't have done it given the crushing tide of foreclosures due to resetting rates.

And Huckabee sure seems to be playing the same sunny optimist role that Edwards did last time around. I've never hoped that a GOP candidate would emulate a Democratic campaign so much. We can only hope, cos we all know how that election ended in a crash-and-burn. (Oh yeah, don't forget to overpay your media consultants and starve your swing state GOTV efforts particularly in Florida and Ohio.)

Add in the Ron Paul 3rd party factor, and I think it's game, match, set for the Democrats. Because when the candidate on your team who generated the most heat (money) is a racist nutjob whose supporters are obnoxious spammers and who represents what you thought was a best the most fringe of the fringes of your party, you know your base is heavily dissatisfied and ain't gonna vote, no way, no how. It's pretty impressive that Paul's $20M haul for this quarter puts him on top of GOP fundraising. I can't wait to watch the incipient intra-party battle, especially since our top 3 candidates are pretty stellar, and share similar policy goals. Not to mention that the economy is in the crapper and a majority of Americans think we will enter a recession next year, well, it's no surprise that even Republican voters are awakening to the fact that in recent history, Republican presidents have brought us shitty economies (Reagan, Bush I, Bush II): "We did better when (Bill) Clinton was in than we did with Bush. It's just terrible." (AP via Yahoo)

So I'm looking forward to seeing not just who we pick, but also who the GOP picks. Because I'm pretty sure we can beat anyone from Giuliani (who I think is weakest) to the Paulster to McHuckabee. That's right, I can nickname as good as our dear leader with his beloved press corpse.

Yeah, Santa, this is all I want for Christmas, so Fed-Ex Next Day this sucker. (Miss the snark much?)

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Need. Good. Stories. . . NOW!!!

Oh man, I am in Stephen Colbert withdrawal (and Heroes withdrawal, and Jon Stewart withdrawal, and, and and...)

I am sure the folks who aren't working and haven't been working for the past 2 months are hurting. But so am I. I can't believe the crap that they currently have out on tv. Yes, Carrie Ann is Asian American, and probably a really good dancer. But my support of Asian America does not extend to watching "BRUNO vs CARRIE ANN" as they lead two handpicked teams in their quest to win in a dance competition.

Just the fact that I know this much about the show is sad and pathetic.

I NEED. Good. Stories. NOW!!!!

I need my tv fix to distract me from all the shit that's going on in the world, in our country, from the daily struggles, from the craziness. I can't wait for Top Chef to start again, but it ain't enough. I need more tv sedation. I admit it freely. I am a Colbert junkie.

I'm addicted to the mass produced storylines, the sometimes unbelieveably good music, and sometimes really cheesy doo wop. I'm addicted to Christina Yang (well, less so now that the Burke-Christina storyline fell apart.) I need more Masi Oka.

In fact, I've noticed an inverse relationship with the amount of quality tv programming and my movie watching in the theatres. I wonder if this was intentional, that the movie moguls decided to starve their audience from one thing so that they could fatten up the other beast, aka cinema.

I can't help but fork over $10 a pop for the chance to suspend my disbelief and to buy into a whole other story or life or world, even. This one's kinda crappy and falling apart. It's on it's way to being as chewed up as my friend Fred's favorite loafers.

I can't help paying for big screen entertainment because the lack of good shows and stories at home is driving me crazy. Big time. I even resorted to watching the crappy NBC show "quarterlife" which is 60 minutes long. I didn't like it but I HAD NOTHING ELSE.

Am I going to start appreciating the days that Dancing with the Stars is on?!??!?! Because that will be the highlight of tv programming?!?! Please not that kind of hell.

I think a positive side effect is that voters might actually pay more attention to what is going on in daily life, and care more about this presidential election, and maybe even get involved in changing things in their neighborhoods. And that would be fantastic, and one can always dream. There's nothing more that I could want.

Except for maybe a quick fix of Heroes.



Tuesday, December 25, 2007

An unusual friendship

A Georgia school has overcome traditional barriers to become a new melting pot. The NYTimes features the unusual friendship of two boys - Soung, an 11-year old Burmese refugee, and David, a 9 year old who befriended him on the first day of school.

A cute and heartwarming story about how we bridge the cultural divide. The thing that gets me the most in the video is how at the end, the two boys talk about how they are going to be friends for 8, 9, 10, no 100 years.

And I think of all my friends from before, where they are now, and how I don't know what they're up to. So I resolve to be better at keeping in touch.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Chicago police want YOU to report suspicious holiday behavior

Oh God of Progress
Have you degraded or forgot us?
Where have your laws gone?
I think about it now - Surfjan Stevens

Oh the places that the jokes can go. Chicago police put out a real flyer asking Chicagoans to report suspicious behavior like note-taking, binocular use, cameras, video, maps. (Image of flyer from boingboing via Sepia Mutiny's analysis of who will be profiled, aka brown folks. Let's talk about karma folks! The Bean was created by an Indian American artist, Anish Kapoor. What if his relatives come by to ooh and aah and take pride in their dadaji and get flagged as terrorists?)
If terrorists do their dirty work by spreading, well, terror, what should we call public servants who aggressively promote fear and unhinged suspicions by telling the public to report note takers, binoculars users, camera enthusiasts, map owners, and motorists who time traffic lights?
Is Chicago really trying to kill any sort of tourism revenue? I mean, how can you visit and NOT photograph the Bean? What holiday shopper doesn't marvel at Madison Avenue and the Sears Tower, or the Cows on Parade, which were specifically a huge tourist draw to the tune of $100-200 million? Or does it just expect folks who come to their new city-owned casino to avoid smiling cheesily for the camera?!?

On the hyper-vigilance stupidity scale, this far exceeds New York city's ban on taking photos in the subway. Because although I hate tourists everywhere, I know folks need a memento for their friends back home.

Plus, on a youtube junkie level, the CPD's crazy edict would prevent me from watching fun/hilarious/timewasting videos like:

Come on! Feel the Illinoise!

Pavi and Harvin - With Mango Juice

Free Hugs Chicago

Chicago Street Drummers

In conclusion, Chicago, you're a beautiful city, and not enough of the world knows it. So don't hide behind your gritty streets and mean cops - show your purty face tonight.

Wilco - Pritzker Auditorium, Chicago 9/12/07 (Had wanted to find vid of them performing Via Chicago in this setting, but settled for this.)

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Happy Holidays from HercuBush!

Courtesy of Americablog. This was so corny/cheesy/ridiculous, but in a great way.

"Man without fear, HERCUBUSH
Stronger than a steer, HERCUBUSH
Making war on war, knocking evil to the floor
Never quite elected but always quite erected,

What are you doing for the holidays? Me, I'm catching up on missed shows. And watching Juno.


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Our Dem candidates as Christmas Past, Present and Future

Since I seem to be on a holiday theme, I thought I would do a quick critique of the Season's Greetings videos that the Clinton, Edwards and Obama campaigns put out. Hat tip to Politico.

The Ghost of Christmas Past
Why is Hillary's "Presents" ad so lame? Is it the psuedo-warm lighting, her flickering pasted on smile? At first I thought this was a literal Hallmark commercial form the 1980s, complete with cheesey music and flickering cheapo plastic ornaments that retail for way to much - schmaltzy and slightly forced emotion packaged as consumerist trap.

I mean, it's like something my 5th grade niece would have thought up. C'mon folks - and you wonder why you're falling behind in the polls? and how much did she pay her media advisor to come up with this crap?!? There are amateurs on youtube who do a better job of tearing her apart.

This ad just screams, "I'm Queen Hillary, and we are not amused." However, we do handout government plans like christmas presents - you get a house! And you get some pre-K education. And you, over yonder, you get . . . bored to tears.

Finally, her closing voiceover of the legally required "I'm X and I approve this message" made her sound even more distorted and robotic than previously considered possible. I can't believe she's recycling this stale idea from my grandma's dusty attic.

In fact, I'd say that her awkward handling of portraying Americans' main policy concerns as mere gifts both trivializes these weighty issues (c'mon, a present with a tag that reads "bring the troops home"?!?!?) and makes her look supercilious as she slips these papers bearing our burning issues under the ribbons.

The Ghost of Christmas Present
In contrast, John Edwards is not the Mr. Sunlight that he used to be - instead, the grim and bleak years without presidential wisdom and guidance have turned our country into the economic shambles it is today. They have also made him a changed man, or at least a changed campaigner - he speaks much more forcefully in terms of moral certitude and absoluteness.

We are at a time of weighty decision-making, but we can turn things around. We can improve America for those who haven't been heard, for the Tiny Tims and the families gathered around a bare table.

It's a serious and somber video, not intensely lit but rather darkly lit, as if he were warning us of the dangers. His Christmas wishes are full of the substantial policy needs and root causes that Hillary's just glosses over.

Currently we do live in a divided America, which brings me to our third candidate. . .

The Ghost of Christmas Future
The wonderboy. The warm flame-lit room bounces love and cheer off its walls, and the family portrait setting is intimate, traditionally set. simple, plain, and to the point. Slightly hokey and gimmicky with the kids chiming in, but what I am most struck by is this radically different version of what a White House fmaily could look like - biracial and proud.

This video says, "it's not too late to turn it all around - we can be united, stronger together with our many voices, than if you were alone. so come on in from the cold."

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Dog Whistle Politics, Dem and GOP style

How do we know when folks are sending an underhanded message?

First I want to talk about dog whistle politics on the GOP side, since that's where we usually see it - with coded words and phrases, typically from the bible, and meant to tell listeners: "Don't worry, I'm one of you."

Mike Huckabee's newest ad has a big fat "I AM CHRISTIAN, SUCK IT ROMNEY" cross blaring out at you at the exact time he says Christ. Look at the way the lighting falls so that the "bookshelf" glows with an unearthly white, as he wraps up his homey, let's all play nice line: "Let's just remember what really matters this Christmas season is the celebration of Christ."
Look at how the Xmas tree cuts off the horizontal line and how the dark shadow shortens the horizontal line on the other side. It's a friggin cross! doesn't matter how much Huckabee "aw shucks"es it, claiming, "It is a bookshelf, people, a BOOK-SHELF" on Morning Joe, claiming that he was signaling in morse code a secret message to evangelicals. Here's a good dissection by the Young Turks, and they have a cute commentary at the end.

Reason 2999 to be afraid of Huckabee - guy comes across genuine and sincere and is wicked smart but craaaaazy.

Now for the Democratic side of dog whistle politics - when you say something that doesn't mean anything to the general audience, but for those in a special sub selected audience, have a far more significant and usually sinister meaning.

what am I talking about? None other than former Senator Bob Kerrey's poison kiss to Obama:

Jack and Jill has the breakdown.
"I have a very high regard for Senator Obama..."

Translation: In no way, shape or form therefore could anything I am about to say (or repeat) possibly be construed as racist...

"[...] As an African-American, he can speak in an authentic way to underperforming black youth who I think will follow his example."

The niggers are coming! The Niggers are COMING! NIGGERS!!! And they will be emboldened by Barack Obama (didn't he say he sold drugs? or maybe he just used them, whatever) to rob your stores, rape your daughters and generally run amok. Crime! Lowered property values! NIGGERS!

Merry Christmas, folks. Enjoy your under-the-radar language and subliminal messaging. Jeez, all I want for Christmas is a more intelligent level of discourse as opposed to one candidate's main pollster and advisor repeatedly screaming "Cocaine! cocaine! cocaine!" This shit is not okay.

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Friday, December 14, 2007

Thanks for the candidates

I watched the last Democratic debates in Iowa before the primaries and caucuses, and I have to say that overall, I am pretty damn impressed by our candidates. We have an African American man who is the frontrunner, the first woman frontrunner, a credible Latino candidate who could very well be picked for veep, and a really strong field all around. Senators Biden and Dodd are two guys who know their stuff, and Edwards is fighting the good fight for the oppressed. (And yeah, I believe it's possible to remember your roots when you make it big, so no, I don't find it incongruous that he lives in a big house even though he's fighting for the little guy. I do think it provides for easy fodder though.) Our candidates are strong, knowledgeable, and ready to serve, despite the personal, political and family pressures of campaigning. I admire that.

What struck me is the tone of camaraderie that the candidates shared - they blunted attacks and Obama even defended Joe Biden, of the infamous "so clean, so fresh" appellation. Someone on dailykos wrote that it was the classiest moment of the debates, and I think that is accurate. (Btw, I'm also glad to have heard a different Biden - esp. at the end when he said that his New Year's Resolution is to remember where he came from. It was a really heartfelt and touching moment, not scripted, just penitent. So I'm glad to have a new, increased respect for Biden, because it's easy to just categorize people as one sentence uttered out of 6 million in their lifetimes.) So I want to thank our candidates for having the courage, chutzpah, dream, passion, fire, and dedication to undertake the crazy endeavor of running for president. It's a damn hard thing to do.

A lot of the reporters said that this was a boring debate, but actually I found it quite comforting that no one pulled out their big missiles, and I was cheered by the lack of daylight on policy issues. I mean, when you get down into the nitty gritty details, they would implement these reforms differently, but everybody agreed about what has to be changed, for the most part.

I'm pretty impressed that Obama has for the most part not gone negative, when that seems to be Team Hillary's instinctual approach, and I think that she kinda can't help but do that given all the assaults she has weathered. When Obama was languishing for months, and donors and supporters were asking, "Why can't you take a harder-hitting stance? Hit below the belt for once?" Obama for the most part - with the exception of the failed "Hillary Clinton (D-Pakistan)" gambit, has played it clean, and kudos to him for that. It makes me think that as a President, he might not get overly corrupted by power. More than that, it gives me hope.

I think it's true that so many Americans just want to believe, for once, in an elected official. And I think it is easy if you happen to be a progressive with some knowledge of trying to hold some squirming, long-toothed, beady-eyed rat of a politician accountable - well, you soon develop a disgust and distaste for the breed in general.

It's easy to fall into the holier-than-thou trap, to have reservations. Because you've seen so many different faces that all blur into one promising you change, promising you a new start, but all they do is slap a fresh coat of paint on that tired 1984 Chevy, and tell you that she'll run like a beaut. There are, after all, only so many times that you can get suckered before you learn to run far in the opposite direction when you see the huckster coming.

We on the left have such high standards. It's one of our eternal lights and biggest strategic flaws. We dream big and blame the world for not seeing our vision, when there's 66 million of us running around with our own unique perfect. And it's always a future perfect.

So we never see it when it's standing right there in front of us, in our lifetimes.

Me, my perfect would be the antithesis of the modelminority running for president, someone who had worked in the fields or factories, who had really and truly struggled, and appreciates that just because yellow is close to white doesn't mean you get to ignore black and brown. It's someone a lot like Mike Honda with the biography of Hubert Vo. Someone who didn't dream of being a politician their whole lives, but who has lived, and found a way of serving people in other, more meaningful ways.

I'm not sure if I'll ever see an Asian American perfect someone like that run for president - if there was someone like that, they'd probably be too smart to run for national office. But it's nice to hope, and to have someone show you and tell you how to hope again. But at the end of the day, you still have to take that very dangerous leap of faith.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Halliburton KBR employee gang-raped and imprisoned in Iraq . . . by her coworkers

Oh, I just threw up a little. As if Halliburton and their former subsidiary, Kellogg Brown and Root, aka KBR, weren't disgusting enough to begin with, they are apparently covering up the rape and abuse of one of their own employees, Jamie Leigh Jones, who was 20 at the time. . . by her coworkers. ABC reports:

Jamie Leigh Jones, now 22, says that after she was raped by multiple men at a KBR camp in the Green Zone, the company put her under guard in a shipping container with a bed and warned her that if she left Iraq for medical treatment, she'd be out of a job.

"Don't plan on working back in Iraq. There won't be a position here, and there won't be a position in Houston," Jones says she was told.

In a lawsuit filed in federal court against Halliburton and its then-subsidiary KBR, Jones says she was held in the shipping container for at least 24 hours without food or water by KBR, which posted armed security guards outside her door, who would not let her leave.

She managed to finagle a cell phone form one of the guards and called her dad, who contacted their Congressman, Tom Poe (R-TX) who supports getting to the bottom of this coverup. KBR won't even tell her who did it, and wants to avoid even airing this out in a courtroom, instead saying that the terms of her contract prevents her from filing in court!!!! Now I need to clear my head of this filth. I can't believe the degree to which KBR thinks that they are beyond the law.

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Writers Strike Comedy Gold

So as a devout consumer of television, I am very depressed that there is no new good tv programming apart from Reality TV. And as much as I love my Top Chef and Project Runway, I crave and need Heroes, Grey's and Ugly Betty. Not to mention the IV drip straight into my brain of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. (Sorry about South Carolina, better luck next time!)

I mean, come on. I can't get through the holidays and family drama without having my TV to tune out to!!! I know I make fun of Americans who do just turn on and tune out, but please don't deprive me. Santa, all I want is my pop culture fix. Please?!?

But the one bright shining silver lining to this whole mess? The writers of all my favorite shows have gone gangbusters on youtube, creating hilarious hits like The Office is Closed, WGA Strike Rally Day 5 (for fans of Seth MacFarlane of Family Guy and American Dad), and Not the Daily Show. All these videos lampooning the evil and greedy studio moguls. Plus the hilarious spoof of the movie moguls' website, www.amptp.org. It is pretty spot on down to the logo and the FAQ.

So the writers are at last able to strike comedic gold on many counts. Just sucks for you, media mogul, that it's all directed at you. But then you decided to mess with the most creative minds in America, who have no shame mocking you for all you're worth (which is probably a cool billion combined.)

Give em what they want - which is a fair deal. Even the quality of your advertisements is starting to suck cos no companies are willing to pay eye-gouging prices for no viewers. I can only stomach so many repeated Taco Bell commercials. At this rate, the ads are gonna make me puke before their food does. (Since I would never eat there anyway.)

P & P

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Monday, December 10, 2007

Lolcats meets Tom Tancredo via Wonkette

Ah Wonkette, you spicy pop culture-politics blender. For awhile I was worried that the rumors of your demise were accurate, despite adding the Anonymous Lobbyist's acerbic wit to the mix and the zaniness of an Ivygate founder.

Well, I'm glad that they continued to put the zest back into the water cooler over there cos somebody got their sassy back. Meet Tom Tancredo's Mexican replacement in Congress. This one had me in stitches for . . . too long. Although I miss the usually cute faces of innocent animals usually represented in lolcats, I will let this one slide despite Tancredo's ugly mug.

Power & Politics

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Sunday, December 09, 2007

Oprah stumps for Obama

Am watching Oprah in Iowa at an Obama rally, reportedly the largest campaign gathering in Iowa ever. (Part 1 and Part 2.)

I wasn't there but based upon the CSPAN youtube footage, Oprah isn't blowing my mind. Of course, I can't say that I'm one of those millions of people who are Oprah fanatics, hanging on her every word, so I'm definitely not her target audience.

But Oprah does have the undeniable ability to connect with regular people and to deftly incorporate religious imagery into her speech. Nonetheless, you can tell that despite her unlimited poise on tv, she's not used to the campaign stump. She's visibly shuffling papers, and looking down at them for cues during her roughly 20 minutes (the first half is definitely less compelling.) Here's where she begins to pick up steam:
We the people, we the people can see through all that rhetoric. We recognize that the amount of time you've spent in Washington means nothingunless you;re accountable for the judgement you made for the time you had. [applause] We need good judgement, we need Barack Obama. [Oprah then goes off on weird tangent about some parents have lost their children]
I think she goes through the issues too quickly, but she does however slow down to make the crucial point that "Looooong before it was the popular thing to do, he stood with clarity and conviction against. this. war. in. Iraq! [applause] We need a president with clarity and conviction who knows how to consult his own conscience and moral authority. We need Barack Obama."

She also grabs my attention and that of the crowd again when she says the following:
We need a president who cares about our relationships with our friends, and our enemies. . . In order for humanity to evolve, and that's really the reason why we're all here on the Planet Earth, to evolve, we have to learn to treasure our uniqueness and our diversity. . . We need a president who can bring us all together. We need a president who can overcome our racial divides, our religious dvidies, and divisions between those who have and those who need a chance to have. [Why can't our populist candidates learn to speak like this?] These are dangerous times.

I know you know it, I know you're watching American Idol to forget about it. These are dangerous times. You can feel it, sense it in the air. We are facing a lot of explosive issues, complicated situations that are easily muddied. We need a leader who shows us how to hope again, and have faith again in America as a force for peace. Just as Barack Obama has seized htis moment, and it's a beautiful thing to see. We must also seize this opportunity to support a man, who as the Bible says, "loves mercy and does justice." [applause]
So Oprah knows her audience and is speaking to the undecideds and Republicans who have turned out not necessarily for Obama, but for her. She is also wisely reaching out to religious voters with the correct language. We'll see how long the Oprah bounce lasts for - and yes, I do believe there will be an Oprah bounce. Whether it survives the onslaught of the holiday shopping season and frenzy will remain TBD.

And it's true that in comparison, Hillary rolling out Chelsea and her mother pales in comparison. On any other day, she would have dominated the news cycle with that, but well, who can deny Oprah's star power? Not even Bill Clinton appeals to such a wide swath of the general public, especially women. As Obama said in response to a fan: "Vice President? That would be a demotion."

Obama did well to roll out Oprah during one of the last weeks that voters will be paying attention - even folks in Iowa and New Hampshire are going to be caught up in family drama, cooking and shopping. Basically, this means that Hillary's week in media has been: Clinton staffer gets fired for circulating false Obama Muslim smear email, and then she has gotten overshadowed by Oprah-Obama mania. Kinda crappy, if you ask me.

Well, feel the Oprah love.

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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Belated thanksgiving

Work has been really busy. And I didn't get a chance to reflect on what I'm thankful for this year, which is a shame. Because I have so many wonderful people in my life and I'm blessed to be where I'm at. I suppose my musical kick is because music unites and heals us.

I suppose part of me feels weird being happy and has to go dig up some angst in a nod to who I used to be. And partially I believe that angst fuels or drives writers and even bloggers. But what I want to focus on is what I am really freakin' grateful for.

I know for certain that I'm lucky to be where I'm standing, and that well, some days I wouldn't be standing if it wasn't for my friends and family. So I'm thankful for my wide circle of friends, who have always been there for me. I'm thankful for my family, who don't always understand what I do but who want the best for me. I'm thankful for my family of friends who believe in me, and whom I learn from. And who I get to share lovely cuckoo moments with as well as more probing, root cause kinds of conversations.

I'm lucky that I get to blog and that I'm an American. It's a privilege that I think we frequently neglect to consider, but when you consider that people who came here to make a better life are giving up on the American Dream, I'm damned lucky. I'm lucky that I'm able to go out to dinner and tip well without worrying if it'll set me back.

I'm lucky that I can afford to give money and time (sometimes) to my favorite causes. I'm really lucky that I get to work for great progressive causes with folks who I love.

I'm thankful for the basics - food, a warm bed, roof over my head, and my laptop. (Just kidding. . . I know lots of people around the globe don't have laptops or even the basics.)

I'm grateful that I've been able to learn and grow from past experiences (I hope) and that these lessons inform my current and future decisions. I'm lucky that I have people who support and care for me. Love to all.


Music moving me

I guess I'm temporarily in a mood to write or link to music that's moving me, versus my favorite haunt of politics. Something about politics not being a game or lacking the fun or perhaps its a peaceful mood that doesn't want to get all jarred up by intramural battles.

Sea Wolf's I Made a Resolution is great soul-searching music, which is appropriate for the contemplative mood I've been in. I recently decided to make some resolutions in advance of New Year's and hopefully I can stick to em. Sometimes I just get all caught up in the heat and the lights and the votes and forget about other things that aren't news or politics. Sometimes politicos forget that it's not just numbers of votes, but that these are actual people with actual problems and stories who are trying to make their lives better. This song is all about being stuck, even a whole family or community being stuck and needing to shake themselves free. Sometimes our parents are too busy with the burdens and it's up to our generation. This song and especially the timbre of his voice reminds me of Eddie Vedder in his heyday. Guess I'm in an 80s and 90s mood.

(I hope I can stick to at least one of them. Wish me luck.)

Lyrics here.

SEA WOLF - I Made a Resolution
well I woke up this morning
and I made a resolution,
I said "never going to sing another sad song again."

I decided I'd admit it,
I'm not an intellectual,
though the words never come easy unless I'm singing them,
and the hills that I was born in will never leave me no matter how hard I try.

and then my brother was murdered
while my father was in prison,
and the girl that I sometimes loved up and moved away,
and my body filled up with blackness, and the darkness it wanted to drown me, and I heard my father's footsteps catching up to me,
and he took me by the shoulders and he said "son, my hands are strong, but I hope you have the strength to shake us free, shake us free boy, shake us free my son, you better shake us free."


and now I'm lying in the van,
chicago in the springtime,
and the rain outside was falling sounds just like popcorn,
but before I open my eyes I think I make this resolution, "no I'm never gonna sing another sad song for as long as I live"

and the light coming through the windows is making everything glow
and he took me by the shoulders and he said "son my hands are strong, but I hope you have the strength to shake us free, shake us free, shake us free, shake us free my son."
I made a resolution
I made a resolution
I made a resolution
I made a resolution

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Slanted Eyes, Slanted Hearts

OMG, I have been unable to get the Slants' Kokoro out of my head and I have angryasianman to thank for it. Their latest album Slanted Eyes, Slanted Hearts is like New Order for 2010, with a deadly beat that reverberates and makes me dance, and the drumming is fast-paced and frenetic, powering a music that speaks of illusions and delusions. It's like they're spinning Kate Bush's Red Shoes onto me, with thudding, irreverent and crystal grooves reminiscent of Depeche Mode.

Confession time: I normally shy away from most "Asian American" artists that Angry Asian Man has promoted for competitions (although Rachael Yamagata was a delicious find), because well . . . sadly, some of them really suck. But The Slants rock really hard, filtering candy synth pop through a edgy, cynical dreamscape of love lost, won, like vibrant hearts of glass shattered on a wooden floor painted with a fiery kaleidoscope of colors and emotions. Imagine the heat in each of the facets of the broken hearts burning right back into your eyes and ears, and trying to jump around the lasers, and then you'll have an idea of how such morose music strangely makes me happy, even giddy.

It's really hard for me to name my favorite, but Capture Me Burning might hold the honor. But Love Within My Sins has an opening beat and vocals channeling Robert Smith on Charlotte Sometimes cut with a bit of the Psychedelic Furs and Love and Rockets. The Slants have the crazily memorable grinding beats like The Killers with the same kind of frenetic energy, if it were a postmodern mashup of the aforementioned bands with the ambivalence, distance and isolation of the protagonist in Chang-rae Lee's Native Speaker. I had the same immediate "recognition of self" response to their music that I did to Native Speaker. And I gotta ditto this amazon reviewer who says that they are actually much more American and European than Asian, regardless of their billing it as "Chinatown Dance Rock." Which is what I guess a hyphenated identity means. For me, their pan-AAPI identity is actually a very far second to their sound - I'd be proudly rocking this noise out of my stereos if The Slants were green and purple as opposed to yellow and white. So it wouldn't surprise me if they hit it big soon cos their music resonates with anyone who's felt hopeful despite alienation.

It's hard for me to describe why this band hooked me immediately, except that as someone who grew up listening to white artists making 80s music, and then realizing how much of my identity I had perhaps subconsciously tried to erase by wearing overly pale or dramatically dark makeup, well, The Slants feels like the acceptance and melding together of my adolescent identity with the Asian American activist that I am today. The Slants' music feels like coming home.

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