Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Super High Super Funky - Fall 08 Shoes!

Hi, ladies, a few freaky gents, bold trannies, and some "ladies of the night," this Fall Season it's all about the shoes! The more fucky and high healed the better. Here are some examples: 1) Louis Vuitton boots; 2) Calzature Donna boots; 3) Giambattista Valli sandals; and 4) Miu Miu heels. They are works of art. Check out more here.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Last Week to Register - VOTE!

This Saturday is the deadline for registering to vote
Show your frustrations at the polls in November
Please register to vote

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Europeans Do It Better - The Ford Ka

Yet another reason to move to Europe; they just have better looking cars.

Ford SportKa Commercial 1

Ford SportKa Commercial 2


Friday, September 26, 2008

Poor Republicans

Republicans are sad, that’s true, but I’d like to talk about the other kind of poor Republicans, the ones that actually do not make a lot of money. It’s a fact that according to his economic plan, Obama will give tax breaks to 95% of the population that make less than $603,402. McCain on the other hand will give nominal tax breaks to this same population, specifically less than 1% for those earning $66,354 or less. But, for those making above $2.87 million, he will additional decrease the already enormous tax breaks they get by 4.4%.

So, the question is, where is McCain’s support base coming from? Let me suggest from the “poor republicans”. I offer you a true life example. I have 42-year-old Asian American female friend, albeit not a close one, who grew up in a military household and makes less than 30k/year as a secretary for the county. I once suggested to her that with her income, she qualifies for government assistance to own a modest home. You see, up to this point, she was living in a house owned by her brother and parents and gets loans from them which she pays back when she can. In my mind, telling her about these housing programs would help her gain some independence and begin earning some wealth.

Her reaction was, “I am not going to take advantage of the government. I hate those lazy minorities who do.” This shocked me because I could not understand where her statement came from. With further conversations I realized a few things. First of all, she sees the government as Republican and the money they dole out come from only Republicans from the middle and well-to-do classes. She does not include minorities, poor people, aliens or even herself in this group of tax payers. And even though she recognizes she is not rich, she still does not identify with the working class. She is a Republican and in her mind, they do well economically.

I argue that there are many, many more “poor Republicans” like my friend. They see themselves in McCain, his Barbie millionaire wife and their kids including the standard adopted child from an impoverished country. Obama is seen as a black man and as we all know, black people are poor welfare recipients who suck the life out of good Republicans (aka: the US government).

What about the phrase, “I will not tax 95% of the American population but rather tax the richest 5% of Americans instead of giving them even more tax breaks” does the “poor Republican” not understand? I implore you to ask these “poor Republicans” the same question. Help them understand that it’s not the 5% of the riches Americans who are bailing out Wall Street. It is the 95% of the poorest groups including the “poor Republican's” tax money that will bail out the Richy Riches. That’s all.

Oh, Obama, kindly grow balls, unless your middle of the line tactic during the debates was to appeal to the Independents. Even then, we’ll have to see, won’t we. What do you think?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Sexy Smart Funny Jew Girl

The Great Schlep from The Great Schlep on Vimeo.

Sarah Silverman give sexy, smart, funny Jew girls a good name! In case you couldn't read between the lines of her political virtual soap box, here it is: She's asking YOU (yeah, you) to talk to your racist, biggeted, closed-minded, ill-informed relatives. Explain to them about what Obama stands for and convince them Blacks are people too. Then persuade them to vote for Obama '08. If the soft touch doesn't work, emotionally blackmail them. Plain and simple. Good luck, comrade gen XYZ.

The Cathedral of Christ the Light

One of the most magical moments in my life was coming upon the awe-inspiring Duomo di Milano (Milano Cathedral pix above). It remains a testament to the greatness of Italian architecture. Never in my wildest dreams could I imagine experiencing the same sensations in my crime ridden, beloved city of Oakland. But, here we are, after a $190 million endeavor that took three years to build, we have the Oakland Cathedral. Today marks the formal consecration and dedication of (its official name) The Cathedral of Christ the Light (image below).
Raised Catholic, I know enough to walk away from all forms of organized religion, especially the ones that allows their “followers” to manipulate “the book” for their own sociopolitical gains. Yes, the $190 million arguably can go to many programs for the needy. However, just having this architectural wonder grace the Lake Merritt area has meaning beyond direct aid for the people of Oakland.

I grew up everywhere and all over the world, but Oakland is where I call home. Oakland exists as a source of pride for me. This city is the most integrated in the nation. Yes, there exists cities like LA and NYC with diverse populations, but people from different walks of life and racial/ethnic groups are separated by areas and barrios. Here, we live with each other and learn from each other, but yet remain an economic and social pariah. Undeserving of its bad reputation, it’s something some of us live with, while others perpetuate the negative stereotypes in order to keep our little gem a secret.

So, to have a cathedral of this magnitude in Oakland is something that as an Oaklanese, I am almost too tearfully happy to really express in words. It says others see Oakland as we see Oakland and have the belief that the city and its people deserve this architectural wonder.

The cathedral serves as the spiritual home for the Diocese of Oakland, with over 500,000 Catholics members in Alameda and Contra Costa counties who worship at 85 parishes. Serving the East Bay's diverse community, the diocese offers Mass in 17 languages. I’m actually looking forward to the shop and checking out the garden dedicated to the rape victims of Catholic priests (such a long debate there, huh?). I don’t believe the cathedral has a café yet, but if so, I’ll be there with my laptop sipping on my late.
All joking aside (I’m actually serious about the café), there’s really much to admire about The Cathedral of Christ the Light. For my architect buddies, you'd be tickled to know it was designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and is a sustainable, green building. The structure’s concrete was formed using fly ash and contributes thermal mass for heating and cooling. The woodwork provides warmth to the building and came from FSC certified Douglas Fir. To prevent another the Cathedral of Saint Francis de Sales, which experienced irreparably damaged in the Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989 and which this one is replacing, the new cathedral is seismically outfitted to withstand a significant earthquake.

Incorporated are fish motifs, most noticeably on the roof as seen clearly from air view. The walls were composed of overlapping panels of wood and glass rising skyward resembling fish scales. This motif also got me thinking that Early Christians used the "fish" symbol as a secret code to point the way to secret meetings. Some nod to the history of grassroots and persecution goes well with Oakland as a whole.
Also, Craig Hartman, the lead architect, followed the diocese’s main design focus, daylight. For this we have the centerpiece of the interior, a large-scale image of Christ as created from natural sunlight through 94,000 perforated holes on aluminum.

Other tidbits includes the fact that the cathedral: took 60,750 tons of concrete; has 768 Douglas Fir horizontal louvers and 1,000 sheets of glass to cover it; 36 friction pendulum double-concave base isolators in which the entire Cathedral rests (for seismic reasons); has the capacity to contain 2,700 crypts and urns; can seat 1,300 people; and sits on 2.5 acres of land. Amen!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Networking in the 21st Century

When Marx first theorized about capitalism and the alienation one feels not connecting to the products we make, do you think he was talking about Second Life? Of course not, but Second Life along with perennial favorites like Facebook, or the dying Myspace, and dead Friendster,...all speak to the human desire to connect and our inability to actually do so.

We email instead of write or IM instead of email, text instead of phone, amazon/ebay/craigslist instead of "real" shopping, and we blog instead of take to the streets in outrage. It's like chasing the illusive dragon, the thrill and hope while stalking the beast will always be there, but as mortals, we will never capture it.

So, maybe the new frontier is not another social network that will wow us with their "pokes" and "avatars" but rather really connect us. Or is that Meetup? Whatever form this new endeavor takes, I look forward to it prying me away from my lovely lovely blog.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Give and Get - Obama tees!

Liberal political group, moveon.org, is in the final stretches of their campaign to register voters. They have a great deal for you progressive fashionistas out there; you can donate any amount from $12 up and receive the super cute Obama '08 tee (image above). Just click here to do your civic duty and enhance your wardrobe at the same time. More about moveon.org is seen below.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

“Yelling Clinic” - Art Exhibit

The Compound Gallery and Studios presents

“Yelling Clinic”

(September 13, 2008-Ocober 6, 2008)

Educational Tea: Sunday September 21, 3-5pm
with Nam Tran Nguyen, Chau Thuy Huynh, and
Kieu Linh Caroline Valverde

The Compound Gallery & Studios
6602/6604 San Pablo Ave
Oakland, CA 94608

If you're in the East Bay this Sunday, please come out to see some innovative works by Vietnamese Americans. I will be moderating an "educational tea". Featured will be controversial artist, Chau Thuy Huynh. Her creation of a pedicure basin painted in the image of the flag of a defeated South Viet Nam (image on right) spurred on a 3-month long protest by staunch anti-communist refugees in Orange County this year.

"Chau Thuy Huynh was raised in Vietnam as a Communist propaganda artist. After she moved to America at the age of 27, her artistic restrictions were removed and she began exploring Vietnam from a different perspective. For this show, she is exhibiting a drawing from her series entitled Soul Catcher. Inspiration came from interviews taken from a Vietnamese Boat survivor, An Nguyen. The drawings are of An Nguyen's words super imposed on Vietnamese newspapers templates and made into childlike paper boats. One of the images is shown above.

See you there!

Update: The event went very well. Thank you for all who attended. Pix below is of me with artist Chau Huynh and one of the boats from her "Soul Catcher" series.

McCain vs Obama Tax Proposals

CNN Crunches Obama and McCain Tax Plans

Click chart image to get a larger version for reading.

Fear(s) of the Dark - Edgy Animation

Spiders' legs brushing against naked skin… Unexplainable noises heard at night in a dark bedroom… A big empty house where you feel a presence… A hypodermic needle getting closer and closer… A dead thing trapped in a bottle of formaldehyde… A huge growling dog, baring its teeth and staring…(www.primalinea.com)
If you're like me, the dark symbolizes another world, a world where spirits and demons rule and where your only hope of escape is the sheer will to regain consciousness, then you'll love what is in store in the theaters soon. Using the theme of darkness and all the imaginings that can lie in this mysterious realm, director Etienne Robial with some of the most talented international graphic artists: Blutch, Charles Burns, Marie Caillou, Pierre di Sciullo, Jerry Kramsky, Lorenzo Mattotti, Richard McGuire, Michel Pirus, Romain Slocombe, created Fears(s) of the Dark. Already receiving acholades at the Sundance, Los Angeles, and Fantastic festivals, this film can easily become a modern graphic classic.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Little Girl's Room - Cosplay in Japan

Oh, joy, the next time I’m in the Shibuya district of Tokyo I will not have to use space-challenged, ill-equiped public bathroom stalls to get into my goth Lolita outfit. Instead, I can pay 500 yen (or $5 USD) for 30 minutes usage of the new Cosplayrooms, tiny dressing rooms equip with mirrors, free Wi-Fi, beauty supplies, and a nonalcoholic beverage. Listening to the needs of many Japanese girls who require adequate space to change from their school uniforms into elaborate cosplay costumes, clothing company, Cospa, created these dressing rooms for all to enjoy!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

I Like ‘Em Fast - Bonneville Speed Week 2008

Just last month I attended the Bonneville’s Speed Week 2008 in Utah for the first time. Armed with my trusty point and shoot and SLR, I was able to document that experience and share some of my favorite images with you here.

Cajoled and convinced by car enthusiast and carlustblog.com blogger, Mochi Mochi, we set off on a 9-hour drive across the desert of three states. I had no expectations but was promised it would be an adventure What I didn’t anticipate was how incredibly international yet homegrown, and gritty yet artistic this event turned out to be. On the magnificent salt flats of Utah where even my sad Matrix looked good, I got a tremendous feast for the eyes (see image to right). I saw for the first time 1920s speed racers that looked like, well, “Speed Racer.” There were: hydrogen cars that resembled missiles such as Ohio State’s 2016 Buckeye Bullet (see image below); exquisite European vintage motorcycles like the Indian, perfectly restored Ford Model Ts; muscle TransAms and on and on.

This event is so non-commercial, there was no fee for spectators and I only found one old-school ice-cream truck that could maybe constitute as a food vendor. By god, I could not even find a commemorative tee to save my life. So novel!

How it works at Bonneville is you get certified to participate. Then your vehicle gets in line with others and when your turn comes up, you zip across the salt flats and get timed. If you break a record, your machine is impounded to make sure you don’t tamper with it over night. The next day you get timed again to make sure it’s not a fluke and if you match or beat the previous day’s time, you get the new record. Though able to watch these cars up close and personal, sometimes standing just ten feet away from the starting line, it was not the highlight.

The most intriguing aspect was when as a “journalist assistant,” I got to speak with drivers and engineers from countries such as New Zealand, Germany, Canada, Australia,…and even from exotic states like Montana or Idaho (see "Japanese tourist" to left. oh that's me). They all spoke about their machines in the same way - with passion, commitment, joy, and dedication to the craftsmanship. They kindly shared stories of their machines and its inner workings as well as the experiences at Bonneville. They were women and men ranging from whipper snappers to 80-somethings. Nothing beat seeing a 68-year-old woman suit up before her motorcycle timing. Way cool (check below a woman in her 60s racing!)!

Possibly the most engaging story was of a Canadian Viet Nam vet who really didn’t look old enough to come from that era, but with a nickname like “Bloody Eddy,” I’ll take his word on it. He spoke about his fellow riders like family and Bonneville like a reunion. When asked about his self made motorcycle, he eloquently and humorously spoke of where each part came from, including using the engine of a chainsaw. I’ll link to his video when I get a chance to upload it on youtube. In the mean time, his image is captured below.

Speaking only as a first time spectator and avid sociologist, I highly recommend Bonneville. You don’t have to love cars and motos but not hating them adds to the experience. Bring lots of sunblock, water, snacks, shades, and extra batteries for your digital camera. You’ll leave with so much more!

Hillary and Palin Together at Last

To watch these women speaking together, click here.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Ah, what's not to like about this North Carolina husband and wife duet, Joe and April Diaco? First of all, as a geek, their band name alone, Alt-Ctrl-Sleep, is a winner. I don't know what it says about their marriage, but the second thing I love about their self-named album is that it really makes me depressed, in a good way. I won't lie, I am drawn to all things morbid. Alt-Ctrl-Sleep makes me embrace my inner goth. Maybe too because they are a couple, they don't have strange pretensions like love and shit. No angst, just deep and smooth as a fine cognac, as evident in their track, "Take Care."

Friday, September 5, 2008

Why Hate on Community Organizers?

I learned a lot watching the National Republican Convention. I learned we are a great nation and John McCain is the maverick to protect us from evil terrorists hanging out in Iraq. There was no message beyond that but according to the loud chants of “U S A, U S A,” we don’t need to know anymore. Hell with joblessness, bad education, poverty, discrimination, inequality…I just need to know we are safe from terrorists. I also learned that “community organizer” is a bad word. If you see one, you should run away. They are to be mocked and laughed at. Lowlifes I imagine. Thank you Republicans.

As a party that touts less government, it’s again ironic that they would pick on a group of people that serve the people when the governments let them down. Non-profit and non-governmental organizations (NGO) and the people that work for them help us: register to vote; feed our children and get them off the streets; inform you of your rights; get you clothes, shelter, and a job; fill out citizenship papers for you; teach you English, strategize on how to unionize,…

All through my adult life I’ve been a community organizer. I worked to find summer jobs for poor kids of color in what I term, “the ghetto”. We found nice employment for them in places like museums, libraries, BART,…The employer got them as interns and we paid the youth. They were good kids that otherwise would have been on the streets and jobless all summer. I also ran an after school youth program for Vietnamese American elementary school kids, Gần Đèn thì Sáng for the Hướng Việt agency.

Gần Đèn thì Sáng kids! I'm in the back with the monkey face. Yes, very mature.

An elderly Vietnamese American woman founded Hướng Việt and the board consisted of young Vietnamese American teachers, lawyers, students, and activists. The youth program I designed offered a window into opportunities that their immigrant parents that worked three jobs to take care of the family could not offer. We spent time with the kids and taught them about gender and race inequality. We discussed hard topics like domestic violence and racism in their community and they shared their experiences and stories with us. They enjoyed going to libraries, museums, and parks. They participated in writing and art projects. We talked about the importance of higher education. Seeing these kids as adults and doing well, I am proud of the work this agency did.

In my crazy (non-republican) world, a community organizer is a well-respected person. The understanding is that they are there because they care and want to make the world a better place by servicing those who most need assistance. In my wacky world, living for things other than oneself is a matter of course. Don’t get me wrong, NGOs and Non-profits have their faults and some organizers are down right strange, self-serving, corrupt and sometimes even out of touch. I don’t want to paint a perfect world with saintly individuals. That’s not it at all. It is however, predominantly about people with passion that sees the need for bettering the lives of those around them. It’s grassroots because it comes from the people who live in unacceptable conditions and they themselves make the changes for the people in their communities. Thousands of these movements across our nation make this country a better place. That is real.

If you believe grassroots movements and community organizing is a positive step for change, please contribute to Obama’s run for the presidency. He is someone who clearly understands and values community work. He was a proud community organizer in Chicago from 1985 to 1988. As the director of the Developing Communities Project for three years, its staff grew from 1 to 13 and its annual budget grew from $70,000 to $400,000. Their programs included job training, college preparatory tutoring, and tenants' rights. That’s community organizing!