I found this guy's story pretty interesting. Jero is the first African-American enka singer in Japanese music history. He is actually 1/4 Japanese (grandmother is japanese), graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in '03 and moved to Japan. He learned of enka (traditional japanese music that is somewhat old fashioned and not popular among the current youth) from his grandmother and began singing it. He was discovered by JVC music scouts at a karaoke contest.

Clearly the record label is marketing the contrast of his hip hop gear and these traditionally melodramatic ballads. Initial TV performance have audiences and tarentos expecting him to rap only to be shocked once he starts singing enka. And I guess the strategy is working because he's flying pretty high on the Oricon charts. I'm not an enka expert, but his voice seems pretty smooth and its impressive that he has a good command of the Japanese language. Supposedly some of the Japanese have referred to him as the "black ship of the enka world"!

the light

Common | The Light 2008
Nomak | Radiant
Carlos Nino & Miguel Atwood-Ferguson | Find A Way
Talib Kweli | Hostile Gospel
Toy Box Scholars | Goya Nectar
The Roots | 72 Bars (Blacks Reconstruction)

sound of color

This website deals with the meaning of color through sound as interpreted by various musicians. They wrote 5 tracks and worked with directors to create a music video.

evolution of car logos

Neatorama has an interesting article on the evolution of automobile logos. For example, the 4 interlocking rings of Audi represents the merger of 4 automakers into one union.

puto cravings

Saw this pic via Simply Anne's and it made me smile. And then it made me hungry. Actually I grew up eating a different version than this pic. We customarily ate the greasy white slabs of slippery puto with butter slathered on top. Our neighbor growing up always served the dry spongier bite-sized puto (as shown in this pic). Either way, its such a great breakfast or snack. Now I have to stop by the nearby Filipino market (thank god there's one 20 min away) and grab me some. This little store gets shipments from the almighty Philippine Bread House.


Cavite is a movie written and directed by Ian Gamazon and Neill Dela Llana about a second generation Filipino-American named Adam who returns to the Philippines and finds out his family is taken hostage by terrorists. He is forced to follow instructions from the hostage-taker via cellphone (think "Cellular" in the P.I.) to commit acts of terror in Cavite city. I caught this flick on TV and although the action was fairly slow, the first-person vantage point was effective and the shaky digital cam delivers a documentary like perspective.

The movie is not without its flaws. The hostage-taker's voice and dialog seemed more humorous than threatening at times - like an old tito making teasing remarks. The character of Adam is one-dimensional and Gamazon's performance was too self-conscious and studied - almost as if he was reading lines off props. Despite these flaws, I enjoyed Cavite, mainly because it was nice to see the Philippines on film. Even if much of it was trash filled rivers, polluted city streets and hungry hustlers. The cinematography of hectic Cavite city ends up being the most effective aspect of the film and lends some needed gravity to the situation.
As a second generation Fil-Am, I could relate to the running theme of Adam's struggles with his Filipino identity. Not only is he panicked by the hostage situation, but he's overwhelmed by being lost in an unfamilar city in his ancestral land. If I was in his shoes, I would be helpless as well. I would undoubtedly need a tour guide if I visit the P.I. Adam's identity issues are a little overdone and forced when infused in his running conversations with the wise-cracking hostage-taker. He questions Adam on why he doesn't speak tagalog even though he understands the language. Again he sounds like a humorous uncle and I doubt that was the intention. In addition to giving instructions to commit crimes, he also forces him to eat balut in order to "taste his homeland". Part of me wanted Adam to run into Anthony Bourdain or Andrew Zimmern as he tried hard not to vomit the balut on the street.

my Ate, my thoughts on obama/clinton

I guess its ironic that my progressive minded big sister ended up living in the traditionally red state of Texas. But then again, working in  the all consuming world of academia and living in the most liberal part of  the state probably balances things out somewhat. Anyway, Texas is going to have a big impact on the continuing battle for the Democratic party's presidential nomination. And Ate is taking careful consideration of the upcoming primary. We had a nice exchange of thoughts. I respect her progressive intellect immensely - and I'm not just saying that because she's my ate.  I explain my support for Obama below. Now, I'm not the type to push political views on people - I feel its more important that everyone get involved in the process this time around.


Ate, I enjoy your thoughts on the upcoming primary. My outlook is not as profound or even issues-oriented but more representative of my gut feelings:

Your reference of Obama's "cult of personality" is a great description of why I was torn about him in the beginning. The enthusiasm surrounding his campaign is impressive and at times strangely cult-like. Early on, I was cynical (as usual), questioning his inexperience and his idealism. Is he a visionary or is he blowing hot air? Can he possibly translate any of his ideas into real action? But at the same time, I found myself getting inspired. Words are just words but at the same time people need to be inspired. Maybe things can happen when people are inspired. Historically, change happens when enough people are energized to make it happen. Yes, Obama is a seductive public speaker but I was more impressed by his ability to energize and connect with a diverse set of people - especially the usually dispassionate crowds. It gave a cynic like me (who never believes in politicians) a little hope that he can reach, unite and lead people in the right direction.

And what does experience mean when its rooted in the corruptive ways that made me cynical of the government in the first place?

Which brings me to Hillary. I agree with your assessment of Clinton and I would vote for her if she wins the nomination. I like her foreign policy and health care proposals and respect her determination. There is a comfort in that Hillary is more of a known commodity. Her presidency would harken a return to the Clinton era - an improvement over Dubya but a continuance of what's wrong with Washington rather than an effort to change things. During the 90s, the Clintons aligned themselves with lobbyists, conformed to appease interest groups, and inspired unproductive bipartisanship. I agree with you that while that era is remembered fondly by Dems, it also laid some of the groundwork that troubles us today.

As a side note, her current campaign frames her as a career politician in my eyes - capable of getting dirty to achieve her ends. I'm not like Dad - I don't have an issue with the "Billary" two headed monster. I had a problem with how Bill was operating early on. Especially when he came out before S.C. to bring out the race issue and paint Obama as the "black" candidate. She may or may not have authorized it but some of her strategies smell of tired negative politricks.

While there's no guarantee that Obama can change things, at least he represents a chance to do so. I think Obama and Clinton share the same basic ideals but Obama evokes an inspirational tone that is needed for the country at this time. I remember his S.C. victory speech when he declared that the upcoming election is not about religion, age, race or gender but about past v.s. future. Again these are just words, but it rang true with me. I think he represents the future - not only because he's biracial but because of his inclusive vision. And I'd like to give him a chance to put that vision into action.

Now, I realize that the odds are stacked against Obama being able to change the culture in Washington. It will be impossible to acheive all of his ideals. He might even fail miserably - but its a risk worth taking, considering the rewards gained from the minute possibility that he use power in a new way. Sometimes, I still wonder if I'm just drinking the kool-aid too much but I feel the country needs a fresh start and Obama's potential for a transcendent presidency is more attractive than the alternatives of keeping the status quo or reaching back into the past.

My wife is more of a Hillary supporter because she believes that her presidency will bring a stability that American needs in these "uncertain times". We don't really get into any heated debates and we both understand the positives of both candidates. If Obama wasn't running, I would willingly overlook Hillary's flaws and support her. But the reality is that he is running and I'm less cynical of his potential than before. That being said...I have no idea what's going to happen. Obama's got the momentum but Hillary still has a chance. Supposedly it all rides on Ohio and Texas. Feeling any of this pressure??

let it snow

This image is random but funny. But who turned on the snow today? Just when I thought we'd get through the winter without any snow, we got our first significant storm of the season. Ok, it was only 3 inches but it was enough to keep half of my department home from work. Marketing people are spoiled and wimpy...every other department reported as usual.

I guess I'm officially old because I was hoping for no snow at all. Actually, if there's a chance of snow, it better be a blizzard or nothing at all. A few inches is a mere annoyance because it won't keep you outta work ... then you have to clean the car, leave early and slide around the roads. I'd rather sit in the office than shovel.

My co-worker from Boston laughs at all of us for southerners for panicking about a dusting of flakes. Her main beef is that no one plows streets around her. It doesn't help that no one knows how to drive in the snow here. You got either people as slow as molasses or SUV's going at breakneck speed. Slow and steady people!

Asw for my wife, she was calling me old as she prayed for a day off - just like the school kids that she deals with. Unfortunately, the Philly school systems are stingy with their snow days. The school system may be failing to reach academic standards but they teach you how to brave the elements.


Thanks to my sis for alerting me to this exhibit showcasing hip hop portraits by David Scheinbaum. Gallery is currently up at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery in D.C. until Oct 26, 2008.

total package

thedieline is a blog featuring beautiful package design. Y Water bottles are one of my favorites. Organic ingredients, recyclable packaging and the bottles can be used by kids (or adults) to construct cool things.

paul rand

Great tribute site to graphic design legend Paul Rand - creative genius behind some of the most iconic logos and memorable graphics of our time.


I've heard glowing reviews from friends and colleagues about Amada restaurant in Old City, but I never got around to making a visit. Suprisingly it lived up to the hype.

Amada's floor plan flows freely between 3 open rooms - encouraging a loud communal experience. The interior features plenty of Spanish reds and browns - wood slab tables, shelves of canned Spanish ingredients and hangers with sections of covered pork hanging near the long tapas bars which define each room. Our table was in the back room which was much quieter, romantic and cozy. This setting was more Mediterranean or almost Turkish - especially when seated in plush couch chairs with a couple soft pillows underneath our asses.

We picked 6 simple dishes and there was not one misstep. The ensalada verde with asparagus, avocado and green beans was a refreshing way to start things off. My wife's favorite was the chorizo blanco - razor thin slices of sausage with bread and side offerings of spicy mustard and peppers. I was surprised the octopus dish offered no indication of octopus. It was basically diced into medallions but the smokey flavor was delicious nonetheless. The calamari was tender and retained a Mediterranean essence in its preparation. The sirloin was top notch and the lobster stew was a wonderful combination of flavors.

The desserts were heavenly. And I don't use that word commonly. The Pastel De Calabaza is a moist pumpkin cake with a side of tart fruit sauce and bay leaf ice cream with pumpkin seeds. The Banana Torrijas is a carmelized bread with bananas bathed in a sinful anglaise with a side of maple syrup ice cream. I prefer moist cakes and creamy desserts, so I was basically licking off the plates.

I love tapas and Amada is as good as it gets. Like MacArthur, I will return - simply to try the rest of the menu.


Props to the masterminds behind this blog. LOL at expensive sandwiches, Sarah Silverman, Juno and being an expert on YOUR culture. More or less describes a lot of caucasians I know.


In honor of Air Jordans XXIII release day. How bout the LeBron punchline at the end of this commercial? MJ defined sports in the 80s and 90s.

Classic Spike Lee/Mars Blackmon commercial for Air Jordan III:

Cool article on Tinker Hatfield - the guy who designed Air Max 1 (one of my favorites) along with many of the signature Air Jordans over the years. Good insight on some of his inspiration for each design - including the innovative AM 1's being inspired by the Pompidou Center in Paris.

not who you think i am

Interesting Newsweek article written by a Korean American author about her experiences in which people confuse her for other asian women. When she catches herself perpetrating the same "crime", she confesses that some situations are caused by carelessness rather than that old racial outlook that "all asians look alike"

Is this a problem that happens to Filipinos or is it more common among the Koreans, Chinese and Japanese? I admit that I've made the same joke that certain asians look alike. Hey, that asian girl that got kicked off Project Runway looks like Vera Wang too.

During my youth in the 90's, there seemed to be a style guide that enhanced the resemblances. I'm dating myself but the girls always had long straight black hair (the typical pinay dyed theirs), J.Crew top, designer bag, jeans with a slight flare at the bottom and a chunky shoe. Dudes either had floppy bangs or spiky hair. I'm sure times have changed but I'm not around enough young Asian kids to keep up.

In my experiences, people haven't confused me for other asians - instead they've been more confused about my ethnicity. Probably because my features aren't typically "asian". My Japanese wife always points out (in jealousy as she puts it) my straight pointy european nose. In trash talking with friends back in college, a couple chinese guys called me a "mutt". Then there was a Korean-American co-worker who greeted our Chinese-American colleague by saying "What's up blood?" before teasing me by saying my blood was tainted by europeans while theirs was pure. As a kid, my skin was pretty dark (I don't know why its lighter now. Is it because I'm stuck inside an office all day? The whiteness of my company rubbing off on me?) and one day, a teacher kept yelling this other kid's name in my general direction. I kept walking but she kept yelling that name. Finally, I turned around and she embarrassingly apologized for confusing me with my African-American classmate. I laughed it off. Well, I was a dark filipino kid with cropped hair and glasses. He was a light-skinned black kid with glasses.

And I've probably repeated similar stories on here where people have confused me for other ethnicities - most commonly hispanic. The Middle-Eastern gas attendant that greeted me with an "hola". The Korean grocery shopper at the Korean mart who confused me for the Mexican cart collector by pushing her cart towards me in the parking lot. Most recently, the hygienist at the dentist's office greeted me, looked over my chart and asked if I was Italian because of my last name. Now that's a reach. I almost blurted out "Did you really look at me when you shook my hand?!"

Can't say the same for my wife. I don't know if she's been confused for other asian women specifically. But I've witnessed her being confused for other Asian ethnicities. Then you have the more ignorant people who call all asians as "Chinese". Philly people say that all the time. You're either white, black, latino or chinese. They like to keep things simple.

While there is a Filipino presence in certain pockets of South Jersey, I don't think white suburbia is quite aware of it. That's probably why I was overjoyed when a new co-worker guessed my background correctly. He even explained his reasoning at length: "Well you look 'kinda' Asian but your name is more Spanish. And I had a professor in college that looked asian but had a spanish name too. I was curious and asked about his background. He said he was Filipino. After that, I could tell that any asian looking people with Spanish names have to be Filipino."

ramiele malubay / AI

I have commitment issues with TV shows. Can't follow any new shows and I'm not even motivated hit up iTunes. The shows would probably sit there unseen - much like half of the podcasts that I subscribe to but never catch up to listening. Has the internet killed my attention span? (By the way - here's an interesting read on the first internet generation) Why waste time on a mediocre show when a quick synopsis is at your fingertips and a million people are blogging about it in real time?

Anyway, American Idol is the most numbing and exhausting experience that drags on for an eternity. I haven't followed American Idol closely in years (Jasmine Trias is killing it in the PI), but I may check in occasionally and root for pinay singer Ramielle Malubay. She made the top 24.

sports & politics?

The Roger Clemens/Brian McNamee hearings are a prime example of how the government is broken. Shouldn't congressmen and senators have more important issues than interrogating baseball players and their drug dealing trainers? How about Iraq? Health care or the economy? Nope, these politicians grandstand for 5 hours and pretty much accomplish nothing that we didn't already know. Clemens is lying about using HGH and McNamee is a scumbag coming clean under duress. Is anything going to be resolved? I doubt they're going to get Clemens for perjury. Its obvious he's lying, but there's no smoking gun.

Sports and politics should not mix. Ugly partisanship even rears its head in this issue. Clemens reportedly conducted photo-ops with Republican politicians. He probably signed a few baseballs for them. Can't blame Clemens for trying - special interest lobbyists do the same things to push their agendas. Then in the hearings, Republicans tried to help Clemens by discrediting McNamee as a conman with a fake medical credentials. Dems went after Clemens. Either way it was an embarrassing ordeal for all involved. You had politicians leaving for hours at a time and returning to repeat questions asked 15 minutes earlier. Then they'll give excruciating soliloquys on their efforts against drug use and concerns for the youth. This whole ordeal was created for politicians to self-promote and push their own agendas.

Steroids is an issue that can negatively influence kids. I get that. But is it a crime that requires direct involvement from the federal government? I don't have a problem with them pressuring Bud Selig to clean things up. But federal hearings wasting our tax dollars?

Then you have Arlen Specter interrogating NFL commish Roger Goodell about Belicheck, the Patriots and "spygate". How does this require any government action? This is an internal issue for the NFL. This only bothers fans of football and not American citizens. Senator Spector looks like a wounded Eagles fan trying to explain why his team lost the Super Bowl to the Patriots.

I'm a big sports fan but let's get our priorities straight and recognize that sports is entertainment and there are more important things for the government to deal with.

hot chocolates

Interesting chocolates from Japan shown in PingMag.
Just in time for Valentine's Day.


Sick customizations by NashMoney.

Palmyra Flea Market

The Tacony flea market takes place every Saturday on Route 73 near the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge to Philadelphia. This event has a lot more hustle than the quaint farmer's market that I visited in the cornfields of Berlin, NJ. The pulse of this event is evident as you step on the parking lot concrete which vibrates with the bass of bootleg hiphop backing up merchants selling pirated CDs and mixtapes. Not suprisingly, the local police feel compelled to "assist" in the proceedings. I don't remember any police supervising the farmers down at Berlin. But this crowd is probably 95% people of color. 75% of the people rocked patterned hoodies or bubble goose.

Plenty of asian sellers - including a 10 year old chinese girl hawking mobile phone accessories on a fold up table. And a middle aged asian lady showing Shaw Brothers movies to a crowd of kids. Instead of dainty houseware, you'll find sports jerseys, fitted caps, sneakers & timbs, kung fu DVDs, bras, fake gucci and fendi bags, and yes, neon patterned hoodies.

Then in the farthest part of the parking lot you'll find people selling whatever junk they got in their house. Old electronics (how about a single tire to go with that double cassette deck or top-loading VCRs?). The collections are almost as interesting as the hustlers themselves. For many, its a family affair. A Saturday ritual where they intermingle with a variety of people from different races and ethnicities to earn an extra buck and to rid themselves of their junk. Junk which transforms into treasure in the hands of its lucky buyer. No treasures for me today, but the walk through was enjoyable.

kina grannis

I was largely disappointed in the ads that ran during the Super Bowl. The most memorable commercial was the Doritos ad presenting the winner of its "Crash the Super Bowl" contest promoting a new breakthrough musical artist. It didn't catch my eye for its humor or cleverness, but because I designed the CD package for the winner, Kina Grannis. I've designed a whole bunch of CDs and DVDs for independent artists that never hit it big, but its satisfying to see Kina get some shine. She is a half Japanese singer-songwriter, now signed to Interscope Records.

chinese new year

Happy Chinese New Year! Seeing New Year's parades in Chinatown always reminds me of the years I spent living there. I shared a house with 4 roomates for 2 years during college. Rent was cheap. Food was cheap and available everywhere at any hour. We were surrounded by a Chinese church/school, an assisted living residence for elderly Chinese, mom & pop corner stores and cheap karaoke bars. Gangs weren't so visible if you lived straight but the occasional group of punks were ubiquitous. We lived off a small side street that was well lit - probably too well lit. Streetlamps streaked through my bedroom window and it was rarely quiet. I remember sleeping very little and at odd hours.

The noisiest nights surround Chinese New Year, transforming the soundscape into a warzone until dawn. Kids run the streets recklessly throwing firecrackers - sometimes under passing cars to shake people up. The smell of powder lingers in the air the next morning as the aftermath litters streets in a sea of red firecracker debris. Its a vibrant red that accents the Dragon dance that attracts followers as it winds itself around each block. I probably gained more appreciation for these events as I moved out of Chinatown and I hope to catch some of the festivities this weekend.


Utada Hikaru | Stay Gold
Janet Jackson | Rock With U
Idle Warship | Industry Diary
De La Soul | Stakes is High (dela remix)

beau monde

My wife is on the hunt for antiques - specifically vintage pyrex and fire king collectibles. I'm not the type of person that frequents antique shops or thrift stores. I like new stuff. New stuff makes me happy. But I can appreciate the charming designs that adorn these pieces from the 70's and before. So we've been dipping into little shops around South Jersey and last Sunday we hit up some places on South St. in Philly. I thought it would be nice to take a little shopping trip before I submerged myself into the Super Bowl later that evening. We didn't end up finding anything in great condition but found some pieces for inspiration. And we had a conversation with a saleswoman who had the thickest South Philly accent. Difficult to describe it in writing but very distinct to the ear.

Then we landed at Beau Monde, a French creperie with a cozy bar populated by artsy folk. The interior is elegantly parisian with tall windows overlooking 6th and Bainbridge streets. From what I hear, these crepes are pretty authentic - paper thin and non-spongy wheaty envelopes filled with goodness. The taste is fairly light and restrained. You'll feel satisfied but you won't feel the guilty need to work out afterwards.

The menu offers savory style crepes with buckwheat flour and an assortment of fillings - bacon, ham, eggs, andouile sausage, mushroom, salmon, trout, goat cheese. Then there are the desert crepes with wheat flour filled with fruits and topped with nutella or whipped cream. So we ordered one of each and shared to get the best of both worlds. The ham, egg and cheese crepe is a simple yet perfect breakfast meal and the assorted berry crepe with chantilly cream provided a delicious desert mix of sour and sweetness.

upset for the ages

Unbelievable game! Ice water Eli did the unexpected in driving his team to the Super Bowl-winning touchdown with :35 seconds left. Everyone points to the Tyree catch where Eli played Houdini and avoided a sack 3 different times only to loft a floating pass that only gets caught in the movies. Tyree's acrobatic catch pinning it against his helmet and will be placed in Super Bowl lore alongside Lynn Swann's catch in Super Bowl X.

Extracurricular comments: Seeing the Mannings (especially Peyton) in all the commercials has been tiresome, but it was actually nice to see Peyton rooting for his brother. 2 Manning Super Bowl MVPs back to back?? Loved seeing Coughlin and Eli getting sweet redemption. Can't say I was suprised seeing the classless Bellichek running off the field before the end. He looked stunned outta his mind. Funny that Brady scoffed at Plax's prediction of 23-17 by saying at least give us more points than that. Then they get held to 14.

The football gods have struck down on Bellichek and the Pats with the ultimate karma for spygate and running up the score all season. Those same gods rewarded the Giants for not resting their starters and playing valiantly in a meaningless Week 17 game against the Pats. Amazing that its come full circle from that very game. A game in which Eli came of age and where the G-Men gained the confidence to run through the playoffs.

Bill Simmons deserves this after his arrogant season long slobbering of his beloved Pats.
And what's Tiki gotta say now? The only negative is that the '72 Dolphins got to pop some bottles last nite. They were probably poppin' geritol instead of champagne - but I'm sure they celebrated as much as any New Yorker.


Finally a campaign slogan I can fully support. Courtesy of Shepard Fairly.
Plus his limited edition poster print of Barack Obama.

hipster bingo

koi turned sneaker

Cool artwork by yoske nishiumi featuring a koi morphing into a sneaker for Onitsuka Tiger.

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