As winter melts into spring… and I know, I live in LA so not much snow here. But recently, I was in the Toronto area, in the Great North… Canadia, and my thought as school let out and I saw the buses open the doors to elementary school kids walking around in subzero weather, was that all these kids are tougher than almost everyone in Los Angeles, for conditions like this would surely shut this city down. But as we get close to time miraculously jumping forward making our days longer, warmer, I’m particularly looking forward to it this year. I don’t know… it’s Spring, a rebirth for everyone and I like to think that anything is possible. I guess, anything is always possible in this town, where people are discovered everyday, overnight sensations happen some nights and great comebacks, well, comeback with a bang! But somehow in Spring it feels even more possible, it’s like Mother Earth herself is giving us a little help. So, I’m not ashamed to say as Spring comes… I’m hopeful. Excited to see what’s around the next corner, the longer days inspire me to work out a little more, jump on the back of my motorcycle, spend more time outdoors and maybe all the hard work done in the cold of winter will sprout the new life in the Spring… I would say this feeling is worth the hour less of sleep I’ll lose in the morning.
I’ve been really wanting to write more… Just long form, to exercise my writing muscles and I guess just, workout some of these thoughts that swim around my mind. So from time to time on my blog, I’ll be writing these essays on just things. You may not agree with my point of view of some of the things going on in the world, but that’s ok, I won’t be offended, I’m just writing to add to the great conversation that is the internet… So with that, here’s my first essay from this series I’m calling, “Not So Random Thoughts.”
So now that the Olympics are done and all the hoopla has run us over about who won, who lost and who came close. Still hung over with the comical conditions of bathrooms and facilities for the media members attending the events and the mishaps of things gone wrong, like the last olympic ring having somewhat of wardrobe malfunction, not being able to thouroghly be exposed, my head begins to clear and other realizations begin to set in. We are so concentrated on, through patriotic pride of our personal countries, our respective medal count, who beat who and who should have done better than they did. I can’t help but to be somewhat taken aback by the fact that at times like this we totally missed the point.
At times like this, I remember things like… to win at the Olympics, is not the actual point of the whole thing. Sometimes watching ESPN or the nightly coverage, it might lead us to believe that it is, that to win at any cost, to bring pride and fame to your homeland, is what the Olympics are all about. But that’s not it all, I mean, I know it’s apart of it all, but it’s not actually the point. The point is actually being there. Yeah, just being there… all of us, the whole world, competing in a goodwill games in the hopes of the highest form of competion, not the definition that pins us against each other to tear us down, but rather the type that unifies us and pushes us to excel to heights beyond any of our expectations. The point is us, the world coming together, walking, competing… and yes playing, not unlike we did when we were kids, along side each other, you know, even the countries I never even knew existed. And somehow through these frivolous games we play with each other (like kids in a sandbox) we find out we’re really not that different.
Now, I’m not an athlete, and I’m sure some of you athletes out there, may feel, that me, an artist pontificating about all of this, has definitely missed the point and the passion of the athlete. Well, I’m not an athlete, but I am a fan, and of course I root for my country, I was bummed we didn’t get the gold in women’s hockey, was even more shocked we didn’t medal at all in the men’s, (I’m sure all my Canadian friends are loving life with bragging rights for the next four years) I was happy we got the gold in couple’s figure skating (yeah, Canada, it was close, I’m not quite sure how they figure who’s actually better when it comes to that, but we’ll take it) also it sucks that Sean White didn’t get a medal and I reveled in the fact JR Celski got a silver medal being a Filipino American like myself. (Heck, I even rooted for the lone Olympian from the Philippines when he did his figure skating routine)
So I don’t want to say that it’s not good to win, or that I didn’t want us to win, because I did and I cheered like everyone else for our guys and girls, I just never want to lose sight in life, of what the actual point of things are, I don’t want it all to just fly over my head. I don’t want to forget the importance of us competing in a country, Russia, in which a few decades ago, we refused to do, as they did too when we held the games in Los Angeles, side effects of the Cold War. Growing up in the 80’s having total fear of this mortal enemy of ours, actually finding it hard to sleep at nights as a kid, with the fear that nuclear war could break out at anytime, causing World War III and the destruction of Earth itself… And now here we are, playing games with each other, in the snow, even having a few chuckles due to silly things like technical hiccups. It’s a magical thing that every few years, the excuse of getting together to play games, like children, can make this great big world, a small world after all.
I just wanted to write about tonight a bit while it’s fresh in my mind… I was running from a speaking engagement at USC to meet up with my co-founders of DPL-Da Poetry Lounge at a spot called Bakery Poetry Lounge in the Noho Arts District, apparently they were going to honor us… I guess, for being some of the pioneers who helped create the modern poetry scene in Los Angeles. Anyhow, I rush to the spot and of course I’m the last one to arrive and find my old friends and partners, Shihan, Poetri and Gimel, together, we are the founders. I walk into the waiting room, to smiles, thankfully it wasn’t time for us to be announced, and I’m like, “So what are we doing?” Shihan laughs and says, “I don’t know.” And the whole crew is in chuckles and what not, showing the looseness of the situation. Gimel pretty much set up the situation and we all came to be apart it.
I’m only writing about this, because, although I didn’t know exactly what the plan was for the evening, it managed to turn into a special night. We figured we’d go onstage and rock a few poems and take some questions from the audience and… I guess be honored. But the thing is, we haven’t all been onstage like that together, rocking poems for many years now. Yeah, we still all attend our poetry venue, but usually not all there at the same time, and sometimes, we don’t even hit the mic to perform, leaving space and room for all the other worthy poets to tell their stories. But tonight, we we’re all back together again, rocking poems, old and new… and telling stories about how this whole thing got started, how we kept it going and how it not only shaped what we now know as the poetry scene in LA, but how it’s shaped us individually.
See, a lot people out there only know me as an actor, a profession and craft that I am ferociously proud of, but being apart of the LA poetry scene and creating something out of nothing… with these guys, well that remains as one of my most prized accomplishments in my life. I don’t often think about it, writing poems and telling stories is just apart of how we communicate. Culturally, I guess, it’s just the way we’ve always communicated, but when I look back over the last two decades and we talk about all the things we went through as young struggling artist, from Shihan living on my couch, all the way to Poetri winning a Tony on Broadway and the beginning of it all, it was us getting together, inviting friends… and friends of friends to a theater on Tuesdays night to hear some poems and share some stories. We worried if anyone would show up… But they did, and they always do… Every Tuesday night. And in some small way, it feels like we help change the world… at least every Tuesday night at Da Poetry Lounge.
So as it is the 8th of the month and I’ve been talking and blogging about this #the8th movement of us, as Asian Americans taking over the 8th of the month creating and releasing new content… Here’s is what I have to offer. A web series written and produced by myself and friends, Cheryl Tsai-Perez, Angelo Perez & Frieda Jane, called “30 something…else”, about us being in our thirties and realizing it’s not exactly how we thought it would be. Check out these fun episodes and to get on the list of #the8th, go to: WeOwnThe8th.com and spread the word about my project and any new Asian content you come across today by reposting with #the8th!
http://youtu.be/sITAdbnjRpg - Baby Talk
http://youtu.be/aRQ4hwBBLE0 - Table For Two
So this is my first blog of the 2014 and I want to use this as a way to introduce you this new idea called “#the8th”. It’s really a simple idea I’ve been developing with a great group of Asian American artist as a way for us to help cultivate and spread the word of Asian media in America and help us create this genre.
I’ve become one of the leaders in the Asian American community as it pertains to the arts due to my body of work over the last 25 years in this industry and although I’ve been able to find success in the mainstream world… films and television. I would be remiss not to acknowledge the fact the amount of roles for Asians and even the kind of rules there are for Asian to play in “Hollywood” projects are for the most part minimal and sometimes not even desirable to play, in some cases, downright detrimental to the image of Asians and not very fair in depicting who we are.
Now I don’t waste time investing in the conspiracy of some underground racist agenda, I’ve been around too long and understand that it’s all business and up to now, us as a community haven’t been in the business of cultivating our voices in the fabric of American pop culture. Even though we are one of the most affluent communities in America and thus some of the biggest consumers of mainstream media, we somehow assimilated so well, we lost our voice and became somewhat invisible when it comes to film and television. I instead choose do something about it… And along with a conglomerate of amazing artist from both the online/digital world and the traditional film making world, we came up with this simple idea.
The idea is basically to take over one day a month, the 8th of every month, to release and promote brand new Asian projects. As a group we plan to release a calendar of events to let people know what’s being released and what to look forward to in the upcoming months. I’m talking new movies every month, online and in theaters, new songs and videos released by recording artist, web series premiering episodes, authors releasing books. I’m talking about taking the 8th of the month as our opening weekend. My greatest hope is to galvanize the Asian American community and anyone interested in Asian media to seek out and purchase new media every month on the 8th. Now this is an open source project. The Hollywood production companies and YouTube stars supporting this and joining this calendar of events are really here to help promote the campaign of #the8th, but it’s really open to all artist around the world. So, the Chinese kid in Texas or Japanese girl in Portland can make a movie and by simply using #the8th to promote and release their film on the 8th of the month and us as a community tracking that hashtag, we can find the newest artist and freshest material.
The whole goal in this is for us, the Asian community to establish our own genre in media and tell our stories and cultivate our voice in America on our own terms.
I know it’s a big idea and it’s not going to happen overnight… but for it start, it has to start somewhere, I guess right here, right now is as good of place as any.
I urge you to repost this and pass it on… If you’re an artist, join in this idea and release new content for everyone on the 8th and hopefully we can start a movement!
checkout my YouTube for the We Own #the8th video!
It’s Fall and I decided to write a new Fashion Sense Blog and today I’m talking about the “Pocket Knife.” I’m sure there are a bunch of you out there that are thinking, what exactly does pocket knives, or any knives for that matter, have to do with fashion! Well, as I am a guy, and I dedicate this part of my blog to “guy” fashion, the pocket knife is actually something that can fall in the realm of what we (or at least I) deem as fashion. First, as I’ve said before, as men’s fashion doesn’t have all the levels of what women fashion has, I tend to find myself always playing in the accessory world, it’s a place that we as guys can be more expressive of who we are. And like watches can be seen as functional jewelry to us, as can pocket knives be seen as functional accessories…
Now maybe it’s because I ride motorcycles and bicycles or just because I’m a boy! But I’ve always liked pocket knives and tools, I think it’s just in our DNA. It’s always great to know you have some tools with you just in case something goes down… even if it’s just having a handy bottle opener on you. (Truthfully, probably what I’ve use most with mine.)
Now the above pictures are some from my personnel collection, but let’s talk about brands. First and foremost, I love Leatherman. I grew up on television and movie sets and crew members who I would hang out with always had a Leatherman on their hip. They are kinda like the Swiss Army knives we all grew up with. I actually have grown fond of those again, recently. Swiss Army opened a store in the Beverly Center and I found myself in there a few times browsing to see what pocketable pieces of coolness they have to offer. They have a bunch of new things that cross into the tech world, like pocket knives with jump drives or mp3 players. But as far as a great tool, I still love my Leatherman.
What makes these knives fashionable is the fact that you can wear them. If you catch me around LA, I’ll almost always have a knife on me. I love the way it looks popping it’s head out my denim pocket, I use the Leatherman Skeletool. Or if I don’t want to roll with a full size knife, I’ll have my Leatherman Squirt hanging of my carabiner. Don’t sleep on the size of that mini Leatherman, a guy told me he hiked all the way to Canada and back with that being the only tool he brought with him and there wasn’t anything he encountered that the Squirt couldn’t handle.
So… that’s my take, I love them, an accessory that every guy should have, either on him or at least in the car. If you find a cool one, you can show it off by wearing it. But sooner or later, something is going to happen and you and the people you’re with, will be glad that you’re “that guy” who was carrying a pocket knife.