Thursday, December 15, 2011

Flashback: A City of Sin and Beauty // Gardena in LAPL

Gambling advertisement for the city of Gardena, 1952
source: LA Public Library
A few months ago I sat on a bus with a couple of men in their sixties who had grown up in Gardena. They described fields where they went hunting for rabbits, and farms, and a stream that's now Vermont Avenue. traci kato-kiriyama shared stories with me about her grandfather's nursery on Western Avenue. I went to LAPL's online photo collection database and typed in "Gardena," hoping to find images of this city that reflect what I've heard, and to perhaps even find a photo about the area where my building is. To my surprise, there were only about 60 results, and the photo above is one of them.

I hadn't realized that Gardena was marketed this way in the early days, as a city for gambling and "sin". Despite being near two casinos, all of my associations of Gardena are with the Japanese American community and with families. I've become accustomed to the flashing lights and jackpot blackjack ads. I don't really think about them. I have not been inside any of the buildings and I don't know a lot about how it's even legal for these gambling establishments to be here. 

I'm surprised at myself for not looking up this history as I've done before. Better hop to it before I flit off again.

Friday, December 9, 2011

What If... at Gallery Nucleus Dec 10 - Jan 2

Looking for some weekend art in San Gabriel Valley? Check out the opening of a new show at Gallery Nucleus in Alhambra:

What If...
What if it actually rained cats and dogs?
What if money really did grow on trees?
What if the moon were made of cheese?
For this exhibition, some of the super talented folks at Disney, Pixar, LAIKA, Blue Sky, Cartoon Network and Sony have created some very imaginative "What Ifs" of their own. Following our Super Big Micro Show back in 2010, Nucleus has again invited the artists behind your favorite animated features to create personal, bite-sized or "micro" pieces that will plaster our atrium gallery with most macro game of "WHAT IF..." ever! 
This exhibit is sure to be not only wildly entertaining, but a fun opportunity to experience some personal works by the amazing artists responsible for creating the magic on some of our favorite films!
December 10, 2011 - January 2, 2012
Opening Reception
Dec 10, 7:00PM - 11:00PM

Wish I could make it for the opening as my friend Vi-Dieu is going to be in this show, and I haven't seen him since I surfed his couch (floor) in Portland two years ago.


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Donate to 'American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs'


The Los Angeles-based writer/director Grace Lee's next project is a documentary about this bad-ass, nonagenarian philosopher/activist:

She's sent out these compelling messages to the Occupy Together movement activists (and to all of us).

Donate to the IndieGoGo campaign today--ends at midnight and it's less than $2,000 away from the goal thanks to a promised pledge of $1,500!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Make it the People's Friday // Mercado del Pueblo

Support your local community! Don't Support the 1%!

Inspired by the mass movements that are challenging capitalism here in LA, nationally, and globally! The Youth Justice Coalition is promoting the investment in our local community rather than corporations on this huge day of shopping. Lots of grass-root and organic creations to be sold!

$2 at the door
Ages 12 and under FREE

Vendors. Music. Food. Art. Community Resources. Raffles.

There is a FREE Public Parking lot across the street of our space.

Tekpa Arte
Buko Bomba
Vulva Creations
Luna Sangre
Hyde Park- Miriam Matthews Branch Library
Solidarity Ink
51/50 Apparel
Watts Village Theatre
Critical Mass Dance Company
Revolutionary Autonomous Communities
Food Not Bombs
Luna Sangre
Ticicalli Yahualli Collective
Freedom Tree Press
Southern California Library
And others will have essential oils, soaps, shoes, jewelry, clothes, holiday crafts,  cultural and organic foods, hair braiding,political posters, books, natural wombyn and moon time products, stencil art, sex positive gear, aroma therapy pillows And MORE!

Chuco's Justice Center,
1137 E. Redondo Blvd.
Inglewood, CA 90302
(Near the intersections: Florence & Crenshaw)10:00am - 3:00pm

Monday, November 14, 2011

Sunday, October 16, 2011

DIY Denim Pant Leg Chalk Bag

[Edit 2012-04-16: I simplified this bag a lot over the next six months.]

The original plan was to use an old Crown Royale bag, but I left the bag at a friend's house, so I went searching around the internet for other ideas.

I ended up combining these tutorials:
Donn Morrison - How to make a chalk bag

The denim's great because the seams help keep the bag stiff and open. The problem is it doesn't cinch very tightly. I should probably make a lining out of an old t-shirt or fleece or something, but, eh. My sewing ambition only comes in small bursts, and this bag works just fine. Yay DIY!

(Note: The safety pins popped out when I fell and skidded on the mat. Oops. I knotted the string and put the carabiner through that instead. To be real, I'm probably never going to make legit straps for it. Shrug.)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Demands for Los Angeles // Occupy LA

"In the end, what we want to do is inspire working-class people to get involved in the political process." This was in an LA Times article when the occupation first began.

A more recent article cites that there are "plenty of complaints and few specific demands other than holding banks and major corporations responsible for the country's economic crisis." Reading this brought a couple of potential demands for the City of Los Angeles come to mind:
  • A hold on construction plans for the new football stadium in Downtown. In The Nation's special sports issue this summer, Neil DeMause asks Why Do Mayors Love Sports Stadiums?  
Studies demonstrating pro sports stadiums’ slight economic impact go back to 1984, the year Lake Forest College economist Robert Baade examined thirty cities that had recently constructed new facilities. His finding: in twenty-seven of them, there had been no measurable economic impact; in the other three, economic activity appeared to have decreased.
Governor Jerry Brown just signed two bills that will expedite the development process, saving the developers money but giving the public less opportunity for discussion and dissent. “We’re going to protect the environment,” Brown said. “But there are too many damn regulations. I’ve got some power now. Let’s cut the barriers and regulations and move ahead.” Building a stadium will get some construction jobs, then some more contracts for service employees, but will that really contribute to a better Los Angeles in the long run? I don't think so.
  • Raise taxes on major corporations and that top 1% and invest funds in public education, mass transit, neighborhood beautification, increase hours of service for public libraries
The time seems ripe to stop being scared of companies leaving our cities, our states, our countries, and time to start thinking about the impact of these companies' whose bottom line has nothing to do with what the surrounding community needs and wants. I'm more concerned with mom-and-pop shops closing their doors than whether or not Wal-Mart decides to build a superstore in my neighborhood. Isn't it time to stop being dependent on big business for employment and instead create an environment for more creative development?
A study by researchers at Loyola University found that, two years after a Wal-Mart store opened on Chicago's West Side, more than 80 local businesses within a four-mile radius (nearly one-quarter of the total) had closed and about 300 people had lost their jobs 
That Wal-Mart stores cause job losses was also the conclusion of a study by the University of California, which tracked Wal-Mart's expansion across 3,000 counties. The study found that the opening of a Wal-Mart store resulted in a net loss of 150 jobs on average. For every 5 people hired at a new Wal-Mart store, the results showed, 7 people lost their jobs at existing businesses. - Marjorie Pritchard at The Boston Globe 
I haven't been out to the encampment in Downtown LA. I'm not about to tell the people there what they "should" be doing. Whatever reservations I may have about the way things are playing out, I'm glad to see something happening. I'm glad to see people out doing something. I'm glad to see people out there feeling something. With a 12.5% unemployment rate, it's only right.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Music to Dance a Jig To

A band called City Bird. A song called The Tide.

I heard them play this song at Tuesday Night Cafe (which happens to be having an LGBTQ community-highlight show on Tuesday) earlier this year. They also did a beautiful rendition of Fleet Foxes' White Winter Hymnal.

I first heard front-lady Jinah Kim at one of the first TNC's I attended in 2008. I bought her CD that year and had it until my most recent move, when I discovered that it was scratched beyond all recognition. It was pretty exciting to see her at the Cafe again.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Dayshots: From J-Town to Gardena // Biking

It's only about 13 miles from Little Tokyo to Gardena, so a few weeks ago, I decided to bike home from East West Players. 

Once upon a time, I saw a cool building and thought that something cool was going to come of it. I was wrong. Three years later, the building is gone. Completely gone.
 A few blocks down, I saw Ghandi.

 Los Angeles needs more pocket parks. This one on South Broadway is not as nice as the little park on Venice & Hope, but it reminded me of the park in Paris where I sat to eat a delicious falafel pita.
I stopped here to drank some water. It was a hot, hot day. Chatted for a minute with a woman about what tough times these are, then got on my way again. 

There is still so much to see and learn of Los Angeles, even after four years.

Monday, August 29, 2011

5 Random Good Things // Gardena & South Bay

I meant to do more of these "Random Good Things" posts, but I've let it fall by the wayside. From 2009 to 2010, I've managed to live in Bellflower, North West Long Beach, and East LA before landing in Gardena, so I should dig up the things that made living in each of those neighborhoods pleasant. I've been in Gardena for a nice, round year now, longer than I spent in any of the other places, so I'm going to start there (I mean, here).

1. Gardena Municipal Bus Line Specifically, the 1 line which goes to Downtown. The line ends in Little Tokyo and the last stop is just down the street from East West Players where I've been working for the last year. Perfection. There's been lots of debate in the city council about the changes they're planning to make to the bus lines, and the new schedule takes effect on September 4th. The bus won't go Downtown nearly as frequently, but at least service wasn't killed completely as was originally proposed. And they added bike racks to the buses sometime last week! I think Gardena was the only (or one of the very few) bus lines in Los Angeles that did not have bike racks.

2. Spoon House Perfectly cooked spaghetti. You can get a nice bolognese. With hot dogs. Or you can go Japanese American style (highly recommended) and get the spaghetti with clams, mushrooms, and dried seaweed. And the bread, oh the bread. Fluffy and chewy and lovely. I like it with butter and black pepper. Oh, and you know a place is serious about iced tea when a little simple syrup dispenser sits alongside the salt and pepper at every table.

3. Redondo Beach at Torrance. Yesterday, while enjoying the first good hot day of the summer, I learned that skimboarding is allowed any time on the beach. This is a big deal since I'm used to Orange County beaches, which prohibit skimboarding during peak hours (from when the beach begins getting crowded to about 5pm). Skimboarding culture is perhaps more aggressive in Orange County since it first gained popularity in Laguna Beach, which means there's been time for enough accidents to happen for policies to be enacted to prevent future ones. There were a lot of  kiddies on the sand, but the handful of skimboarders seem to always be quite cautious. Not having to wait until the sun starts sinking means more time to run, glide, and eat sand before the cold water and wind make my ears hurt too much. I really haven't taken advantage of the proximity to the ocean enough since moving here last year. 

4. El Rocoto Chinese-Peruvian food. It has two locations. El Pollo Inka is the popular Peruvian food chain in South Bay, and I would still go there if I wanted some delicious roast chicken and rolls with green sauce, but El Rocoto wins with me for their lomo saltado, braised ox tail with creamy fettuccine, and chicken milanesa with pesto-cream spaghetti. And I always like supporting little (or in this case, littler) businesses.

5. Neighborhood Grinds I'm pretty attached to my morning French press coffee so I don't often go to cafes for coffee any more, but this is one of the shops that I treat myself to-- specifically for their dark chocolate mocha. Not too sweet. Nicely bitter. And that dark chocolate whipped cream. I like to slurp it off of the surface of the drink before it melts in. I'm a lady. Also, they play music that seems directly torn from my high school/college playlists, which is both pleasant and jarring (oh shit, are these classics? I mean, they play Michael Jackson on KRTH 101 now).

Just a few of the many things that have made living in Gardena pretty good so far. More (so many more) to come. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

If Only I Could be the Baroness of Boogie

Since The Park's Finest started their catering business, the question that has bombarded them over the last two years has been: Where is your store? Johneric has recounted stories of people calling him while wandering around Echo Park and Historic Filipinotown wondering where his spot is, to which he'd have to reply that they were a catering-only business and did not have a brick-and-mortar restaurant. The best bet for getting a plate (short of placing a catering order or attending a Pleasure Palate tasting event) was to volunteer at Tuesday Night Cafe, or go to their booth at TNP's Annual Benefit or the  Festival of Phillipine Arts & Culture.

As of July, however, The Park's Finest is on its way opening its very own shop in Historic Filipinotown. And they are asking for the community's help to make it happen:

The video not only tells a story of the formation of a business, but of the bond between neighborhood, community, friends, and family. I was lucky enough to have been invited to one of the first tasting/fundraising events that helped get The Park's Finest on their feet way back in 2009. It is astounding to see how far the company has come, and how dedicated the crew is to each other and to their community. This business is by and for community. I know that they can be trusted to come through on what they state on IndieGoGo:
as a community-oriented company, we aim to reinvigorate the blighted district of Historic Filipinotown in Echo Park. Our community fundraising campaign will build capital for a restaurant that offers a fulfilling dining experience, for families and friends to enjoy savory BBQ in an atmosphere where musicians and artists can showcase works that reflect and celebrate the intersections of the dynamic cultures and histories bridged by this vibrant area of LA.

I can't wait to see it happen. Unfortunately I can't donate at the Baroness of Boogie level, but I'm gonna do what I can as soon as the next check comes in.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

In Which I Yell A Lot // J-Town Summer Sessions is Saturday!

I don't often post photos or video of myself here. I'm making an exception because J-Town Summer Sessions is this Saturday and maybe if you're amused (and not frightened off) by my frantic yelling in this video, you'll buy a ticket to the concert and support one of downtown LA's longest-running free public arts spaces.

This posting is belated since Tuesday Night Cafe was last night and the 2-for-1 special is over, but I hope that this demonstrates the lengths to which we will go in order to get people to come and make this a great concert for the artists who are performing, vending, and live-painting. 

Online ticket sales end on Thursday, but you can also get tickets at the door for $25 ($20 for students/seniors). Kids 12 and under are free! With Mista Cookie Jar there, it's going to be a family-friendly affair. Even with Higashi selling beer. ;n)

Can you spare $20 for 7 months of art+community in Downtown?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Change Ain't So Bad // Notebook Saga

Yesterday I finished writing on the very last page of my very last Earthbound Cachet notebook. I was filled with despair each day I came closer and closer to the end. And then I reached the end. And that was it. Nothing exploded. I didn't start crying. I closed the notebook, picked up my coffee mug, and went outside to water my plants

I woke up this morning and faced the new notebook I got from the clearance rack at Raw Materials:
Half an inch shorter. Stark white, smooth pages instead of fibrous ones. A slick-textured cover instead of a plain brown one. 

I opened it and started writing. And I remembered how, yes, exhilarating writing in a brand-spankin' new notebook can be. So I'm not facing a wild case of writer's block because of it. And if I had writer's block for morning brain vomit (which is what this notebook is for-- I started the ritual while trying not to go crazy in late 2007), then there's something bigger going on than a case of the wrong notebook. 

[While writing this post, I was reading this one. Ha.]

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Pearl Girl at OUTspoken Sessions // Allison Santos

I remember when I first heard about Equal Action and OUTspoken Sessions at Tuesday Night Cafe back in 2009. Skim (who will be at J-Town Summer Sessions) was the inaugural featured performer. I attended for the first time in November of that year, when traci was the featured performer. Until this year, the queer youth open mic was held at the Solidarity Hall on Washington Blvd. It was a cosy, intimate space.

The next OUTspoken Sessions on Friday, July 22 will be at KIWA on 8th Street and is featuring visual artist and Pearl Girls Productions That's What She Said co-conspirator Allison Santos:
She plays "Rae" on TWSS and is one of the most recognizable cast members. Maybe it's the hair. Or her boyish charm. Or her magnetic dance moves. 

For clarification: OUTspoken Sessions' intention is to provide space for queer youth age 19 and under, but older folks are encouraged to show up and support! Inter-generational solidarity, yes, please.

Monday, July 18, 2011

DIY Artist Residency // Kevin Kwong

For the past month, our friend Kevin Kwong lived in our living room, made art, shared his art, and generally had a great time. We had a great time hosting him. New paintings appeared on the wall with incredible frequency. He even made incredibly affordable prints of his paintings ($20 each) which he debuted at the July 5th Tuesday Night Cafe. Here's one of my favorites:

Deeshaun’s Present
Now Kevin is gone, and our living room is no longer a bedroom, our dining area no longer a studio. My roommate Vicky and I are considering opening our living room once again this autumn for an artist-(friend)-in-residence.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Tofu & Cookie at Tuesday Night Cafe // Free Public Art

I help curate the performers for TNC and I'm excited that we were finally able to get Audrey Kuo on the bill! But the fates toy with me, and I'm not sure whether I'll be able to make it. It's going to be such a good show, and with Mista Cookie Jar, it'll be extra kid-friendly, too. 

Friday, July 15, 2011

This is a Cry for Help // Notebook Saga

These 5.5x8.5" recycled-material notebooks have been my staple for morning writing for about a year now. A couple of months ago, the stock of the notebooks at Raw Materials began to dwindle. James, one of the co-shop owners, looked up the notebooks on the distributor's website and they were not available. I didn't think too much of it even though a small voice inside me was already beginning to feel the cold grasp of despair that my beloved notebooks would be discontinued. I began visiting every other week or so, asking James if anything had changed. Nothing had. Except that the stock of notebooks disappeared completely. I bought the last three or four that they had.

I went to the Daler-Rowney website to check out the situation, to find that indeed, they no longer even listed the notebooks. It was as if they never even existed. Stricken, I called the company and left a message about my predicament. I probably sounded half-crazed to whoever listened to it. I haven't gotten a call back. 

And now, alas, I am in the final pages of my last notebook. Just a few more days and it will be over. I'll have to do an online order if I don't find a seller in town that still has these notebooks in stock. Ideally, I'd get some kind of deal and be able to order them in bulk, but considering how desperately I want to acquire them and since they're in limited supply, I should probably resign myself to paying a premium. 

And then, what will I do once those notebooks run out, too? What will I do? 

Well, I'll adapt, of course. Readjust when I must. But I'm trying to put that off for as long as possible. I'm being melodramatic, I know, I know. But these notebooks... they're so beautiful. If you see them anywhere in Los Angeles, let me know. 



Tuesday, June 21, 2011

TNC Tonight: Comedy, Cocks, Opera, Poetry

It feels like forever since the last time I heard The Fighting Cocks play. I think it was November, at applesauce's farewell party. (And oh yeah, the frontman is also The Park's Finest bbq master & TNC Resident Host Johneric Concordia.)

This is also going to be the last time in a while that I'll get to hear Mary Rose's sweet soprano live since she's going off to grad school in Santa Barbara. Ah, so much is changing.

Also, along with the tide of theatre that has come to Los Angeles this month (including the 3rd National Asian American Theater Festival & Conference) came Laos In The House from the Midwest. 

Too much good stuff, as is always the case in LA. 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Dayshots: Gardena to Long Beach // Biking

I biked12-13 miles from Gardena to Long Beach a few weeks ago. I considered taking public transit, but the trip planner said to take the 125, which is slow and often very late (yes, even by LA Metro standards-- I took this line often in 2009 because it was one of the few which run through the little ol' town of Bellflower). And I'd have to transfer to a Long Beach Transit line to get to my final destination. The public transit option wasn't much faster than the biking option, and I didn't have any strict time constraints, so I biked it.
Central & Walnut
It was a good ride, especially along the stretch near CSU Dominguez Hills. There were large plots of flowers, the sidewalks were wide and smooth, and Del Amo Boulevard actually has a really sweet bike lane. The most difficult part was probably the uphill ride over the 91 freeway, when I gave up and walked my bike. I'm a wuss sometimes.
Spider along the LA River
It took me about 90 minutes to get to Carson & Cherry. It may have taken less time if I hadn't taken Gardena Boulevard and meandered through unfamiliar neighborhoods. I didn't realize it would end and just kept turning south and east until I hit a familiar street. The ride made me think about how rarely I travel toward a destination without time constraints, and how the amount of time it takes to get somewhere sometimes seems so important even when I don't have them. It was good to stop and let go of that fixation for a bit. 

Friday, June 10, 2011

Khmers On Three Stages // LA Theatre

You know what's exciting about living in Los Angeles right now? Other than my blossoming and fruiting little garden? Theatre. Seeing Khmer Americans stories and/or actors take the stage. I'm planning to see them all.

Extraordinary Chambers
(Seeing this on Tuesday!)

Krunk Fu Battle Battle
(I work at EWP where this is playing, but I haven't seen this yet. Soon!)

Friday, June 3, 2011

Gardening Schemes with Colorish Dreams // 1st&3rd Tuesday Night Cafe

My friend A'misa (artist, writer, and creator of Colorish Dreams) and I have been sharing our growing dreams and schemes-- from future claimed public spaces to throwing all sorts of seeds into the moist earth to see if they grow. She and her mother have been incredibly successful with their saved seeds. Particularly cantaloupe seeds.

baby melons
She gave me this little pot of half a dozen seedlings (which I have no idea where to plant), and has a bunch more that she's trying to find homes for. We're on the lookout for a good spot for a guerrilla melon patch.

As for me, I have at least four dozen chamomile sprouts that I foolishly sowed into an egg carton. I have plans for places to plant them, but I doubt I'm going to find enough homes for them. They don't take much care, though, once they get established, and apparently even flourish with a little bit of neglect.

just-sprouting chamomile 
So we're going to bring our extra seeds and little seedlings to the next Tuesday Night Cafe and share them with any takers. I'm sure there are seed bartering/exchanging events around LA, through the Seed Library of Los Angeles and the like, but it's always nice to be able to incorporate new things with old stand-bys. And, there's going to be music, poetry, live art, vendors, and general community goodness at TNC. So why not add some living green things, too? Not sure where we're going to put them, but we'll figure it out.

Guerilla plant exchange/giveaway
1st&3rd Tuesday Night Cafe
Aratani Courtyard
120 Judge John Aiso St, 90012
Show starts at 7:30 so come by at around 7:00 to check out what plants make it to Little Tokyo.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

If You Want Midweek Music Goodness

Go to these events:

MidTones TONIGHT (& every 1st Wednesday), 9p. in Chinatown
MidTones Open Jam takes place at legendary Grand Star Jazz Club on the 1st Wednesdays every month, offering an inclusive venue for musicians, noise-makers and music-lovers to experiment, explore and experience. Led by SK, music at the event ranges from Miles Davis to Black Sabbath, Michael McDonald to Bob Marley, Frank Zappa to Prince, Journey to uncategorizable pure improvisation.

common ground open mic (for music, poetry, and some tasty community vibes)
This month's common ground features Andrew Figueroa Chang (whose EP I fell in love with last winter), Quincy Surasmith (Tuesday Night Project live web stream master), and forWord (a spoken word collective of fellow UCI grads & Uncultivated Rabbits), which means, obviously, that I must go. 

One day, there will be convenient, efficient mass transit between Los Angeles & Orange County. This is the mantra I'm going to repeat whenever I find myself taking a circuitous 2+ hour transit route or sitting in soul-crushing rush hour traffic between the two.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Getting Dirty in Public // LA Urban Gardening

I've decided to claim this little patch of dry, uninviting soil near my apartment. The weeds have died away, which means there's probably not a lot of nutrition in the soil right now considering how much rain we had the week before I took these pictures. That's going to change. I'm starting by putting my vegetable peels and trimmings in the ground. Sure, I could attempt to maintain a real compost heap and then amend the soil with that, but the energy expenditure it takes just doesn't make sense with limited space, time, and raw material I have. And I figure that the moisture from the raw vegetation will be good for the soil, anyway. 

First trench
After receiving a bounty of vegetable trimmings to add to my own healthy supply (which I keep in the fridge in marked containers to prevent strange and terrible odors from accumulating in the kitchen), I took to the streets. To this corner. I dug a couple of trenches with my favorite gardening tool, spread out the veg, and buried the goods.

LGBTQ Youth of Color Events This Weekend

Last night I went to the opening of Barangay's Tulay event. The work of fellow TWSSter, heart-friend, and talented artist Allison Santos is featured in the art exhibit, and she'll be speaking tomorrow on a panel of community leaders from 2-5pm. 

Two of the most memorable performances of last night's opening were Kay Barrett's exuberant spoken word and Dom Magwili's performance art piece, in which Dom sat on a sofa surrounded by brightly colored tsinelas and conversed one-on-one with people as an older, Filipino-accented man whose daughter had just come out to him, trying to understand queerness.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Get Free Mulch! // LA Urban Gardening

Do you garden? Do you want to start one but find that your soil is mostly clay and dries up and cracks? Mulch is the answer. 

And you can get it for free in ten different locations in LA on Fridays! AND you can get free compost on Thursdays. 

The City of Los Angeles Sanitation Bureau runs a program that's Closing The Loop, taking green waste and turning it into mulch and compost which can be picked up at these locations:

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

"To My Asian Brothers" by Pat Sumi // LA Asian American Poetry

From 1969 to 1974, a group of Asian American activists in Los Angeles published a monthly newsprint journal, Gidra. I came across the following poem by Pat Sumi in my reading in Asian Americans: The Movement and the Moment:

To My Asian Brothers
Clarity of vision            
           of perception            
           is a color not possible            
           in Los Angeles 
To the far horizons                  
                the city slumbers                              
                in its brown chemistry                              
                of Babylonian chains
           bind my feet                     
                  my eyes             
           as I stumble along the yellow mosaic 
Carefully, I search for the missing pieces 
            a glittering piece             
            a sparkle of discovery 
My family sword is found             
              to strike my chains of sorrow 
But the chains merely part                                           
                                       then re-form 
In despair             
               I stumble
             Now I see you so near             
             You give me strength to rise again 
But why are you so still                           
                          so stoic                                        
Chains of Babylon             
               bind us together             
               but we do not touch 
With this sword             
              I would free you 
But where are your chains?                
                They are not like mine 
In your eyes             
            I see your spirit             
            bound by chains                         
                       by burdens                       
                       by weight                      
                       by heart                                   
                                   so heavy             
             the sword cannot free you                                                   
As you stand so still            
            your eyes                          
                          steadily mirror                          
                          a painful past 
Do you see                 
                  grandfather    back bent                 
                  worked to the ground? 
Do you see                 
                  father        barb bound                 
                  concentration sent? 
Do you see                 
                 brother       Asian death                 
                 Vietnam sent? 
Do you see                 
                 the unshed tears                 
                 the unavenged humiliation?
Do you see                 
                 as you stand so still                                    
                                     so stoic?
To be a man
               to be free
               to love
               to walk proud
               in a clear night
                                     to be a gentle lover
                                     to a home
               is a life not possible
               in Los Angeles
But history is not defeat
The back is bent           but unbroken
The spirit is bound        but unbroken
And you, brother,
               are chained   but unbroken
Strength is will
             is spirit
             is soul
             is love
             is unity
As we speak
             the world has turned
             a revolution
             a great victory in the East
Clarity of vision
           of perception
           is a color possible
           by a new light
           by a new day dawning
The burdens of grandfather
            become light by this new day
The sword glitters and sparkles
                                   with piercing red fire
                 to shatter the chains
           We are free!
           You are free
                             to be a man
          are to be thrown away
          so we walk freely
        are to be free
              to see us and the world
              in the light of a new day dawning
             Come join hands with me
             we have been separated too long
A home of revolution
             of love
             for us is possible
             in Los Angeles 
--Pat Sumi, 1970

I've heard that the original Gidra was put together in a sort of co-op house somewhere in South Los Angeles. It was a political journal that was sometimes an inch thick. Inspiring.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tonight: 1st&3rd Tuesday Night Cafe - I'm reading!

Tuesday Night Project is in its 13th Season of putting on this free public art event! And I'm proud to be a part of it, on-stage and off.

If you haven't been to this yet-- why not?

1st&3rd Tuesday Night Cafe
Aratani Courtyard at the Union Center for the Arts
120 Judge John Aiso St.


Thursday, April 7, 2011

Cure for those Empty Storefronts--AUTO FREAK: a j-town pop up shop

It's been nearly a year since traci and friends were invited to use a space in Little Tokyo Mall that once housed a car accessories store called Auto Freak. traci, along with alfie numeric, phloe, and keiko agena (with plenty of help from friends and partners) worked hard to clean out the dusty, musty, fluorescent-lighted space and transformed it into an art gallery/poetry shop/greeting card store/writing workshop space for one glorious month last summer. There was music, laughter, writing, poetry, and pizza with mochi.

AUTO FREAK: a j-town pop-up shop was a place full of wonder and magic and community tucked into a corner of Little Tokyo Mall (that structure on 3rd & Alameda that . Check out the awesome sign (which the management did not let the ladies keep even after they had worked so hard to clean out the space and meticulously place those letters on the sign:

As I walk around Little Tokyo-- and, pretty much everywhere-- I notice all these storefronts sadly gathering dust, barren save for signs with names and contact information of their real estate agents, who are sitting in an office or walking down a street or driving in a car somewhere that is not this neighborhood, and I wonder why artists, writers, community groups-- people who need spaces, aren't allowed to just do something. traci and friends paid for electricity out of pocket and through donations from patrons.

I challenge property management companies to invite the community into the spaces. To invite poetry into these spaces! How lively, how revolutionary, that would be. How about poetry and art instead of another yogurt shop or hip(ster) clothing store?

Friday, March 25, 2011

Tonight: OUTspoken Sessions Queer Youth Open Mic tonight!

 The Equal Action folks are an amazing group of organizers dedicated to empowering queer youth of color to fight for social justice.  I hope they don't mind my plagiarizing their post:
Equal Action proudly presents
OUTspoken Sessions

OUTspoken Sessions
an open mic and safe space for queer and ally youth 19 and under
Friday | 03.25.11 | 6:30-9:00

with two extremely creative women 
during this Women's History Month

singer and song writer Caresse Fernandez
Caresse Fernandez
Caresse is 4'11 and that seems tiny,

Although this is true, her voice is kinda mighty.
Ready to go with her guitar,
Equipped with a piano, she could go far.
She likes to sing and she likes to dance,
She just loves music, so give her a chance!


spoken word poet and hip hop artist Sumiko Braun
Sumiko Braun 

Sumiko Braun is:
a radical queer feminist. 
a single mother of color. 
a libertarian socialist. 
a spoken word poet. 

a womyn warrior.

Check out our new location!
KIWA's Cultural Education Center
3471 W. 8th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90005

street parking
near busline 66, Wilshire/Western Metro Station

for more info:
check out our facebook page

Are you a youth who wants to help organize OUTspoken Sessions? Get more info about joining theOUTspoken Youth Organizing Committee by contacting Stephanie at
Equal Action is honored to hold the 2011 OUTspoken Sessions season at KIWA's Cultural Education Center, home to a variety of invaluable events and programs for the community. Learn about KIWA and other events happening at their Cultural Education Center.

Monday, March 21, 2011

New Ceramic Art Gallery on 1st Street!

While wandering around Little Tokyo waiting for the Hope & Memory Service at the Japanese Cultural & Community Center, I found a bright green wall and open door under the old boarded-up game shop sign (you know, the one that says "Outer Heaven"). 

Meet Lilia:

Meet lovely ceramic art:

I kept coming back to those faces. I'm trying to think of what I can give up for a few weeks in order to save the dough to buy one of her lovely pieces. Good to set artful goals. In addition to her own work, she also has pieces from friends in South Africa available. 

I loitered there watching her work and chatting for about an hour. Only one couple came in during that whole time. Come on, people! She's getting her sign this weekend and her opening will be in a few weeks. I love new discoveries, especially when they resonate with ideas I've been toying with for a while. I've been thinking about taking a ceramics class for over a year now. Material art is sort of foreign to me since I'm so used to the work-anywhere medium of writing. Hmm, there's always papier-mâché...

More on Venier Gallery soon, like the address and opening date. For now, wander down First Street and look for the bright green wall. You can't miss it.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

If You Send Nothing Else, Send Love

The destruction and impact of the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdowns in Japan are unfathomable at this point. I've found it hard to take it in, let alone express it (though I tried and will keep trying). 

On Thursday is a chance to gather with others in the Little Tokyo/Downtown LA community to "come together, and reflect on the suffering of countless individuals and our interconnectedness" (Chris Aihara, Executive Director of the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center).

"In response to the tragedies in Japan, the JACCC is convening an interfaith service and community gathering.

       Service & Community Gathering for Japan Quake Victims
       Thursday, March 17, 6:30
       JACCC Plaza
       244 S. San Pedro St.
       Los Angeles, CA 90012

       For more information, contact: JACCC 213-628-2725

There will be representatives from Japan disaster relief funds, for individuals who wish to make a contribution."

See JACCC's press release here.

I'll be there.