Friday, February 10, 2006

It's not a "disaster", it's a "profit opportunity"

You remember New Orleans? You know that place where all the people of color died and we felt bad about it, but then we threw some money at it and forgot about it? Well, not only did most of the Red Cross money not get to the right people, but now we are starting to see the "rebuilding" plan take shape.

The poor and working folks of the city wanted to move back and rebuild and the major corporations including Dick Cheney's former company wanted to profiteer off of the death and chaos. Guess who got their way?

Now community leaders from New Orleans are traveling the country to try to raise awareness of this atrocity. In their terms, we are seeing the "privatization and gentrification of an entire city". Come out and hear the truth and learn what can be done about it. After all, New Orleans is just a blueprint for what they'd like to do to every city. Don't the folks in Baghdad know that...

What would you think if I was standing by after you were hit by a car, and then it took me 35 minutes to come over and check if you were ok and call for help, then you died and I cashed your insurance policy? Would you family say, "Well, he cried at the funeral, and he seems like a good guy--he didn't cause the car accident!" Maybe if they hated you...

You see, I don't want to be rude, but I know crocodile tears when I see them. I sincerely believe that they could not foresee Katrina hitting New Orleans, but there's no doubt in my mine that they hid a tangible smile when they realized what it meant. And the fact that all of us assholes sit around while they pile up profits from these deaths sure tells us how we feel about poor people of color.

As the people of New Orleans become a tribe without a homeland, what are you doing?

Come out Saturday, February 18, 2:00-4:30PM, to UNITE HERE, 333 S. Ashland Ave. Chicago.

Monday Michiru at Hothouse Friday 2/17

I've been a big fan of Monday Michiru since I heard "You Make Me Wanna" in, of all places, the "Beatmania" arcade game as an exchange student in Kobe. Later, in Kumamoto I spent all day everyday with my team teacher Ikuko--fighting often in school over curriculum, and then dancing all weekend in the city. She introduced me to "Double Image" with its DJ Krush track, "Cruel 2 Be Kind".

In late 2004, I was feeling guilty for spending too much time in our apartment and so I checked "The Reader" and there was Monday playing at the HotHouse rhat evening. Liz couldn't go, so I went on one of my rare solo excursions to dance out. I took the Red Line down, marched up the staircase of HotHouse, and just soaked in the amazing atmosphere of this non-profit club and Monday's ethereal voice. I danced and danced, and got a chance to chat with Monday briefly (about being half kids) and get her to sign an old remix CD I had lying around.

It took one night for me to fall in love with the HotHouse and I've been fortunate to get to be enriched and share my love for it with others on many occasions.

Monday will be back in Chi next Friday night, and of course, I'll be back to experience it. If you are in Chi and want to join our group to head out there, just email or call me about it--we'd love to have you.

Mr.Guillen does not go to Washington

Mayor Daley announced his disatisfaction at Ozzie Guillen, often controversial Chicago White Sox manager, skipping the customary White House visit afforded to champions in most major American professional sports.

Daley's point was that the honor of the office should be respected with a visit.

While Guillen himself did not respond, his son, Ozzie Jr. explained:

"My dad cares about two things, his baseball team and his family,'' Ozzie Jr. said. "He's not interested in pleasing other people. The White House had changed the date of this visit a couple of times. It was supposed to be right after SoxFest [at the end of January]. Mr. Daley probably doesn't know that.''

Is there any chance Ozzie Sr. will reconsider and interrupt his vacation with a quick stop in Washington?

"No way. Not at all," Ozzie Jr. said. "To Ozzie, his family is more important than getting attention for himself. You have to remember, Mr. Daley is a politician. My dad is not."

Now, personally, I might not agree with Ozzie's decision--I would probably use the opportunity to give Bush a piece of my mind--I deeply respect it. One of the decadent qualities of declining empires is a great respect for ritual than for substance. Let's face it--the visits that most teams make to the White House are not watershed moments for national policy. In fact, they are exactly what Daley suggests--an opportunity to recognize the inherent honor invested in the office of the President of the United States.

But does that really exist? Honor and respect come are not currency determined by our government. They are rewards to be earned from every individual. Ozzie Guillen is saying that kissing the President's feet is not so important that as he is jerked around by the president's schedulers, he feels the need to give up time with his family.

On a related note, the architect of Chicago's first championship baseball team in eighty-eight year, Ken Williams has been pretty quiet following his team's triumph.

But he was not so silent on the visit to the president:

Apparently not everyone has such an easy time separating politics from honorary visits.

In a recent radio interview, Sox general manager Ken Williams said he decided to make the Washington trip, but only after thinking long and hard about it because he differs with President Bush on the war in Iraq.

I wish he would have. Politics and morality are not things you just put in your pocket when the social conventions warrant it. Celebrities are Americans too. When they speak out politically from any end of the spectrum, they set a good example for the rest of the country. There is no magic moment when we are "ready" to participate in representative democracy. There's too much of us sitting on the sidelines as it is.

It's not a coincidence that Guillen and Williams are making waves on these issues. Ethnic outsiders are often the ones who possess the courage to question social conventions. Let's afford these men our respect.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Code Black

Grey's Anatomy tried to capitalize on following the highest rated show in this or most years, the Super Bowl, by pulling out every possible big gun last night's episode.

Some diehard fans, myself included, worried that the show, in introducing a "Code Black" situation would compromise its philosophy and go "too sensational". Furthermore, in order to appeal to the huge, predominantly male crowd tuning in for the game, they had a ridiculously gratuitious shower scene with three of the main actresses from the show.

Sound dreadful? It would have been, except for lead writer Shonda Rhimes took the helm for the critical episode. Amazingly, she was able to walk the tightrope of adding shiny objects to attract the new audience and still retaining the heart and snappy writing of the show. For example, in the opening "shower" scene, the dopey main character imagines himself getting into the shower with three of the main female leads. He indulges himself in his dream, but even as Sandra Oh's character says something along the lines of "You are sooo much smarter than me and so hot!" we can hear the dripping sarcasm. Immediately, Katherine Heigl's character breaks down George's door and yells at him to stop clogging the toilet or "you'll have to go in the yard!"

Shonda is a master--just when you think she has caved to the pressures of selling the show to the Super Bowl crowd, she flips the script.

Furthermore, despite fears that "Code Black" would be some terrorist threat or something worse, it turns out to be--spoiler, spoiler--cause by a couple of idiots playing with explosives in their backyard. She's able to have the cliffhanger, high-suspense "everyone we care about might die" moment and still not go too sensational.

Finally, she continued to deepen Dr. Bailey's character as she maintained her image as a fearsome, powerful force (for whom Dr. Shepard would rather risk his life and job than risk her wrath), but also as a vulnerable mother to be.

As promised, the episode is a cliffhanger, and will resume next week. Hokey, but necessary marketing.

Look for:
Continued build on the "Code Black" tension, Bailey to be fighting for her and her child's life, some more bullshit on the stupid ass emaciated main character and sleazy, whiney "McDreamy" and most of all I'm going to go out on a limb and say that Asshole Karov couldn't get it up again--he was back on the floor WAY too fast for anything to have happened...

Don't Look for:
An Asian American man...

A Perfect Super Bowl

While most of the sports media drones on and on about how the referees robbed the Seahawks of the game, I'm frolically in a fifth Super Bowl for my hometown. Hines Ward, African-Asian American Wide Receiver for the Steelers won the game MVP award. The game-breaking touchdown was tossed by ex-QB and Chicagoland product Antwaan Randle El. It was brillliant trick-play in which there was a double hand-off reverse to El that he capped off by tossing a missile to Ward.

I know some people will say, "What's the big deal that the hero was Asian American?" Just for today, let's just say that you think I'm not "color-blind" or whatever and I think you lack basic human empathy and have the discussion for another day.

To be honest, I kind of zoned in and out during the game. Baseball is my first love for sports and American football, while super-fun to play, is irritating to me for the very reason many of the zealous are complaining this morning--it's a rather subjective sport often determined by inconsistent officiating.

As usual, I missed most of the halftime show, but did tune in long enough to catch part of the Rolling Stones' performance. Matt gives a deeper analysis here, but as for me, I was kind of amused by the fact that these old guys got all dressed and made-up for this event (Jagger was wearing pants and a jacket to match one of my favorite pairs of pants). But the singing was just dreadful. While they performed their unmelodious dirge, the crowd went nuts all around the stage, in well-choreographed fashion.

I realize that there's no accounting for taste. But simulated fun just never compares to actual fun, and I was really just able to bear the proceedings for a short while by hoping that Mick would whip-it-out and all hell would break loose. No such luck though.

As the game ended, Liz and I cheered a little bit, and then I watched the post-game show to make sure that we didn't miss a moment of Grey's Anatomy.
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