What do Daniel Dae Kim, Chinese Hot Pots, Lisa Ling and the Kintetsu and Miyako Malls all share in common? They're all on our list of favorite Asian American people, places and things of 2005! Yes, there is an upside to being Asians in America and we want to celebrate it by sharing our collective enthusiasms of the things that make us feel good about being Asian Americans.
Buying tickets to more than an occasional Hollywood flick takes a truly self-effacing mindset. Most are guaranteed to make us feel invisible and irrelevant. The only exceptions are the releases of major studios wanting a piece of the action of established imported talent. For now our best alternative is to support films made by hardy independents with more passion than money. One is Alice Wu who managed to get a couple million behind the comedy Saving Face in which Joan Chen gets herself knocked up and turns to her grown daughter for help.
They're the next best thing to taking a trans-Pacific trip to the ancestral homeland. You can surround yourself with other Asians and lose yourself in the sights, sounds and smells of your favorite Asian city while taking care of your week's Asian grocery shopping. For most of us these days, a big modern Asian mall is less than an hour away. Do you know of a better place to gorge on Asian eats while soaking up the ambience than Asian Garden Mall in Orange County's thriving Little Saigon?
It's not just about the foxy face, the compelling curves, the luscious legs or bitable booty — it's also about that certain je ne sais quoi that makes otherwise mature people desperate to know more about someone. How many ER fans are dying to see Ming-Na in curlers and fuzzy slippers? How many martial arts fans would love to kick it with Kelly Hu? How many MTV fans are burning to know what Suchin Pak sounds like before her first cup of coffee?
Business enterprise is the sphere of American life in which we Asian Americans have had the most visible impact. In particular, hi-tech has been the area in which Asian entrepreneurs have infused high levels of bold thinking and dynamic energy. Americans would have been tripping over far more ugly wires in their homes and offices without innovative entrepreneurs like Victor Tsao who with wife Janie co-founded Linksys, the leader in wi-fi routers.
We Asian Americans have suffered more than our fair share of injustices over the past century and a half. Fortunately we've also produced some of America's fieriest crusaders. They've spearheaded the freeing of scapegoats like Wen Ho Lee, the redress of institutionalized racism like the Japanese American internment and even the improvement of athletic opportunities for all American girls. We are challenged and inspired by people like Stewart Kwoh, vice chair of the National Pacific Asian Legal Consortium.
Asian Americans enter professional ranks at twice the rate of the American population at large. Thousands have attained real stature, winning the admiration of others in their respective fields. But most of us know less about these achievers than we do about actors and professional athletes. One example is Oakland Assemblywoman Wilma Chan. She was California Assembly Majority Whip during 2001-2002.
It has taken America's top universities a long time to recognize that Asian American students are the biggest minorities on campus. In fact, most of the Ivy League ignored student requests for Asian American studies programs until they staged marches, hunger strikes, sit-ins and other forms of protest in 1996. The UCs were the first to get it, with Cal, UCLA and Davis having offered AAS courses since the 1980s. Have you had a better AA Studies prof than Berkeley's Elaine Kim?
Who hasn't wasted time and money in search of clubs with the right crowds? Here's a list of 10 clubs that pull attractive crowds with good Asian American representation. Is Avalon really Boston's best club? It's up to you to expand on it and keep it current with the benefit of your experiences.
What makes us sit through mind-numbing news shows night after night? Those gorgeous talking heads! Sharon Tay? She's been lured away from KTLA to become an MSNBC asset. Who's your favorite info pusher?
Is CNN's Sophia Choi the new Connie Chung?
Sushi bars are more than fresh fish on vinegared rice. They've come to represent our grasp of that interplay of culture, status and hip known as power dining. Matsuhisa is named after a guy who came to L.A. via Lima and Anchorage and has half of Hollywood eating out of his hands. What's your favorite LA sushi place?
Are Corean sushi bars the new Chinese restaurants?
For Asian Americans seeing a Hollywood flick is like walking point through a minefield. Yet a few filmmakers have succeeded in seeing us the way we see ourselves. Better Luck Tomorrow has already become the digital wallpaper of a generation. What movie tells your story?
Is Hollywood filmmaking moving offshore to Asia?