Sunday, November 19, 2006

"Walking in Memphis"--Rhodes College show

Last weekend, we performed in Memphis at Rhodes College. The whole damn time we was there, this song "Walking in Memphis" was on repeat in my head--I don't even remember the last time I actually heard the song, but I kept hearing "Walking in Memphis/walking with my ten-feet off of Beale/walking in Memphis/Do I really feel the way I feel?" That song has since been replaced in my head by Beyonce's lyrics "To the left, to the left/Everything you own in a box to the left"--but that's a whole 'nother story. Anyway, we've been booked to perform at Rhodes since about mid-summer. Monica from Rhodes worked really hard to bring us out--I think some folks may have been a bit nervous about having us there because, you know, we're such angry, foul-mouthed, potentially violent Asian American women and terrible role-models for the Asian American students on campus. I mean, who knows what could pop off with us around?

Well, despite some folks' apprehensions, our flights were booked already, and we arrived to some great Rhodes hospitality. Monica and Susan picked us up at the airport and offered to show us some sights since we had a few hours before we had to prepare for the show. On the list: Graceland! I was like, Let's go there! I don't think Catzie really cared about going to see Graceland, but I kept thinking: when am I ever going to have another chance to see where Elvis lived? Not that I'm an Elvis fan or anything like that, but I guess I wanted to see the Jungle Room for myself. So after getting lost for a while and seeing parts of Memphis that maybe we wouldn't have if Monica hadn't needed to turn around so much, we finally made it to Graceland.

There's too much to tell, so I'm only going to share a little of our trip to Graceland now and try to do more later. We have a group photo of all of us in front of a mural of Graceland's gates, but I have to scan that one still. Anyway, here's Catzie just as we were about to enter the King's front doors.

Doesn't that look say: What the hell am I doing here? Here's Monica and Susan.

Yeah, not a great picture, but the only one I had of them while at the mansion--although I have to say, Graceland wasn't as big as I thought it would be. But I guess back in the 60's and 70's Elvis was livin' large for the times (the tour said he bought Graceland and its surrounding land for $100,000. Wow.) When we first walked through the doors, the living room/music room was on the right.

My favorite part of the room was the stained-glass peacocks separating the living room from the music room. From the living room, we saw Elvis' parents' bedroom and the dining room but I didn't post pictures of those because it wasn't that exciting. My favorite room was the TV room.

What in the hell is a big, white monkey doing on the coffee table? The best part to me was that Elvis had three TVs in the room so he could watch three different channels at the same time--oh, and the records and 70's stereo system. Memories of my childhood and 8-track tapes, but you younguns don't know nothin' 'bout that. I also liked the pool room (so named b/c of the pool table smack-dab in the middle of it) which was upholstered from walls to ceiling in this dark fabric.

Oh, outside Graceland in front of the souvenir stores, there was this box (it was really a display case with merchandise in it) with the words "Fragile" and "Handle With Care" stamped on it, so Catzie decided to mimic our Vol. 2 CD cover. Here she is bursting out the box.

She tried. Anyway, I'll tell more about Graceland with more pictures later. After we left there, I believe we got lost some more but finally made it to our hotel. When Catzie and I had changed our clothes and freshened up a bit, Monica and Susan took us to get some real Memphis BBQ. But on the way to the place, Central BBQ, we passed this drug store called Ike's and lo and behold, Monica tells us Ike Turner owns this chain of drug stores. Well, this was just too funny to me and Catzie--that Ike Turner was reduced to owning a chain of discount drug stores--so we had to get a picture of ourselves in front of it. We made poor Monica drive us around all over the city late at night just so we could get Erin to take this photo of us at about 1am:

We're just some partying fools. But back to the Memphis BBQ: we got to the restaurant and Catzie and I were just overwhelmed with the choices. What is the pork plate? The beef? Should we get a 1/2 rack of ribs? What sides to get? Did I want to risk getting the BBQ beans? Will we look like gluttons? I don't know about Catzie, but I was starving by that time, and after some blundering with the order (sorry, but that guy was talking way too fast. I'm lucky I even was able to say "1/2 dry, 1/2 wet" and still know what the hell I was getting) I decided on the ribs (oh, yeah, and said "what-the-hell" and got the beans. No audience members were subjected to any flatulation or foul stenches during or after the show). Actually, we both got the 1/2 rack of ribs, and I'm sorry I didn't get any pics of it, but we were too busy stuffing our faces to think about it--but Catzie did manage to take plenty of food pics later that night of cheesecake.

OK, after stuffing ourselves, we had to rehearse for our show. While in the middle of rehearsing, I noticed this Orientalist lamp sitting all out-of-place on a nearby table. Ai-ya, we just can't escape the stereotypes.

Very strange because the rest of the room was kinda medieval-looking. See for yourself:

Yep, that's Catzie rehearsing because all our fun done for the time being, and we had to perform. Well, only once Catzie ran all around campus looking for a computer and a printer so she could make copies of poems she wanted to do. Most of pics taken of us during the show were too blurry. Here's one of the better ones.

Yeah, I don't think that, technically, we're performing a poem here, but it was one of only ones that wasn't too blurry. We started late but had a really great show . . . even when Eddie practically fell out his seat laughing at my singing in "Ancestor Worship" and made me forget my lines, I still had a great time :P I hope he knows I was just playing when I kept busting on him--it was cool. Plus he said that I reminded him of his mom singing him lullabies when he was little, so that was nice. We got to meet other students along with Eddie after the show: Vicky, Erin, Sina, Hai-Ching, Ziggy, Sonya, Mandy--that's everyone we remember. They were a great bunch of people and we got to hang out with some of them for a bit. We ended up at a place called The Cheesecake Corner. Catzie took some photos to commemorate the dessert's artistry.

Ooooo, mood-lighting. That's Hai-Ching, Sina, and Eddie in the background. This is like the 15th photo Catzie took of the cheesecakes--see the whipped cream melting. And mine's in the background which I couldn't eat until Catzie was done itching her photographer-bug. Look, here's another one.

See how nice the whipped cream looks? Too bad mine was like soup when I finally ate it. But seriously though, these cheesecakes were pretty scrumptious--very very rich. Have lots of milk or tea or coffee on hand.

OK, I have to do Mommy things now, so I'll continue this story in another post. But before I do, I will try to put a post up with pics from our William Paterson University show this past Friday. In the meantime, thanks to everyone in Memphis for your Southern hospitality, especially Monica and Susan. It was also great to meet Erin, Vicky, Hai-Ching, Eddie, Sina, Ziggy, Mandy, and Sonya. Hold it down in Memphis, and we hope our paths cross again soon.


Monday, November 13, 2006

Pics of messages to the Ileto family

I know, I know--here I go again with my late-ass posts. But I got 4 jobs and 3 kids, and some days I don't have time to eat let alone update the blog. But a good thing is never too late, and even if it took 6 months, I would still make sure I posted these final pics from the Joseph Ileto Commemoration event. Please click on the photos to enlarge so you can read the messages. You can also use the magnifying glass feature which is enabled when you enlarge the photo (just in case you didn't already know this feature existed--like my technologically challenged ass).

Much love to Deena and Ish and the rest of the Ileto family, Yun and her daughter, Kristina, Allison, John Eric, Shari, and everyone else who came to see us in LA. We hope to see you all again soon.

And for those of you reading this blog: please honor Joseph Ileto by striving to end racial hatred and living a life of peace and love. Blessings.


Brooklyn Update

Just when I was trying to make up for lost time and keeping these updates fresh, something always comes up. On top of broken camera, broken laptop, I've misplaced my ipod. Electronics hate me right now. What have I done to deserve such treatment, huh?

Here are the pictures from Sulu/NYC Weekend. If you have been eagerly waiting for an update you can blame this guy, the one in the center with the glasses on. No, the one that's not looking at the camera, I don't know why that other guy is smiling and making eye contact, I don't know him. And check the other guy on the right out, ice grilling. This is a distracting picture come to think of it, but it's the current one I have of Les so it'll do.

His name is Les. I borrowed his camera since I still don’t have one (my horoscope said that I had to wait until Thanksgiving to buy any electronics, why am I heeding this I don’t know) and instead of promptly uploading the pictures I had to wait a couple days and reminding him. I guess I can’t really complain, the camera was really nice for him to let me borrow, and he did let me stay at his crib while I was out there. Oh yeah, I also promised Les in return that I’d put him on the blog and that would bring more girls for him. I don’t know why I said that, he doesn’t need a blog to get girls, just look at him he already kinda looks like a young Tiger Woods.

Just a little bit?

First stop was the Party for Uganda, with Elisa/El Gambina as a feature. It was a quaint little place, kinda reminded me of a house party but it was $20 open bar and for a good cause. Elisa rocked the crowd and the mic anyway. I wasn’t quite adjusted to Les’s camera’s setting which were either too much flash or not enough so I just snapped away a bajillion pictures of her, which I am sure annoyed everyone else. That’s the photographer in me. It’s really hard to get a good picture so you just have to try every angle to get the shot (I also hate flash and bad composition, so I’m just warning you now that there will be some obscure pictures ahead). The party was going well and everyone seemed to be enjoying their free unlimited alcohol. In Philly we always get a good soul clap going on at the end of a party, so when El told the crowd to put their hands together, I did my part and made the girl next to me go partially deaf in one ear. Oops.

Elisa is taller than some guys I know, like this DJ here. But she also makes men feel small with her mic skills. Don’t worry she’s not at all hard to the core, peep the little heart on her hand. Next we met up Norm and Rex from the Pacifics who were supporting their fellow Chicagoan DJ Twilite who was spinning at APT. I don’t know what it is about being at the bar and drinking, but people just start getting lost in their thoughts.

Norm is concerned if his drink really is a rum and coke...

Les wonders if anyone will call him and checks periodically...

Rex and I play wallflowers but I still can't master the art of hand-held self-inclusive portraits. Oh well. Later we headed over to Kingsize where my friend Meagan works. She is the best bartender around, makes a killer huckleberry cocktail something or other. Perhaps a little too killer, I had such headache the next morning, I couldn’t upload her picture. Nor could I make the Pacifics performance and the Organics School 105 party. Those were some strong drinks. I may have to give up drinking for a little bit. Sorry Meagan, but you’re still the prettiest bartender in the Lower East Side though. I was worried about whether Rex and Norm made it to the party since I was passed out, so Cheeks Deniro who is part of the Organics Thoughts entourage and a talented photographer as well, reassured me with this picture. Haha. It's almost like Rex got caught.

On Sunday, I met up with two talented homies, Anthony and Randy. Anthony is a designer for 10Deep. I interviewed him once for a dorkmag article and we’ve been cool ever since. Turns out that he was also college buddies with Taiyo and he was into all the Asian American Writers Workshop stuff back when Feedback ran Recollection. He said he had seen and been to some Yellow Rage events before, but for some reason, our lives only crossed in the streetwear subculture world and he still didn't recognize me. Now that we’ve found each other again, sorta, we‘ve been joking about the number of “conscious Asians in the streetwear game”. Anthony is also like one of the only four Vietnamese people I know in NYC, and since I wanted Pho, I made him take me to a restaurant he approved of, Thai Son in Chinatown.

This is Randy on the right, for some reason he, Michelle and Dan are trying to avoid making eye contact. Randy is a filmmaker, his teacher/boss/mentor is none other than Spike Lee. If any of you have seen Inside Man with Denzel Washington and When the Levies Broke, the HBO special about Hurrican Katrina, Randy did work on both. His last name is Wilkins, you can see his name in the credits if you don't believe me. Randy is finishing grad school at NYU where Anthony studied a sociology/anthropology major that has nothing to do with designing clothes, and they both got to chatting. I like when my friends get along.

When we tried to get to Brooklyn, we could not catch a cab for the life of us. One cab pulled up and just as I was had opened the door to get in, he pulled off and turns his “on duty” light off. That bastard almost took my arm off. We spent the next 25 minutes hailing cabs and finally got one. To insure that all of our limbs were intact, we jumped right in and told the driver we were going to Williamsburg, Brooklyn only after we had closed the doors. When we finally arrived, we learned that Giles could not make it, unfortunately. His mother-in-law was feeling ill and he stayed to make sure she was okay. We hope she is well too, Giles. You were missed and our blessings go out to you and your family.

I spent alot of time climbing around, tryin to get a non-flash, non blurry shot. I didn't get too many. But by the time the show was going on my friend Niki arrived with her camera and then the "professional" photographer suddenly showed up. Derek Srisaranard, professional photographer. Of course no one told me. No one warned me about the gum under the sound table either. Ewwwww.

For this segment we'll have comparison photos, though I'm sure the pictures by Derek, the professional, will win. This is Chaz aka Koba. He does too many things to name so you'll just have to visit his page to find out. We just know him as Chaz, a nice guy with mic skills. When I take a picture of him, he's a sound guy.

When Derek takes a picture of him he looks more like an MC.

What the hell? I should just quit now.

Jay Legaspi is a singer. He did a quick rendition of a Postal Service song so we thought he was of the indie rock breed, but then he surprised us again when he used Neyo's "Sexy Love" as an intro for his next song which was "R&B" and more his steez. The last song he did, I can't remember the name, was about sweats - as in sweatpants and how he liked his girl in just those. I'm sure if Jay ever got big and his song was played all over, sales in sweats would blow up. I think I will try going out in sweats this weekend and see how many guys notice me. Jay also had the most supportive family members there. Well just one, a female. A sister? A cousin? No matter, she was mad supportive, she even yelled when we were onstage.

This is our friend Dan Kim, a very funny comedian, accomplished actor and 1/3 of Asians Misbehavin. If he looks familiar, Dan was on Margaret Cho's sitcom "All American Girl". A little bit more of Hollywood gossip - Daniel Dae Kim from "Lost" has to keep the Dae in his name so as not to be confused with this Dan. Haha, how 'bout that for a mix up?

This picture was taken by me. I might have a chance to prove my talents after all. But doesn't R.A. Villanueva look so happy when he sings? Just look at the way his feet hold together. Here he's singing a song about in/fidelity and references the marriage of Homer and Penelope from the Iliad. He puts this perspective onto his own marriage and wonders... Nevermind. I'm staying out of this. It just made for a very interesting song. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Jason Joseph is from LA. His sounds are from the same school as John Legend, accompanied with Golden Era hip hop beats. I don’t know what or how, but he got the hook up on the sound system and the dramatic lights. Maybe it was because he was using the piano. Or it might've been because MTV was following him here. By this time Les's camera had died, so I was juggling with Niki’s camera. Not too clear, refer to Derek's flick for a face shot. He wins.

I figured I’d follow the MTV guy’s moves and get the same shots. I guess that sorta paid off, he asked me and Michelle if we’d like to be featured for MTVK, which I think is affiliated with MTV but caters to Korean Americans. I was kinda excited to be asked, but I also clarified that I wasn't Korean, just so they knew, but that Michelle was Korean so we were still qualified. I'm telling you man, Koreans got something on the rest of us. I don't think Derek the photographer is Korean, but he might as well be, just look at his photos...

Arghhhh!!! Feel the power in those words.

Wow, he really does take great pictures.

Oh snap! An inch more, and I would've eaten the mic.

In Hawaii they call this move a shaka.

When our friends take pictures, we get all the unattractive parts highlighted.

Michelle and I have noticed that while her fingers are short, mine are long. I wonder if anybody else notices, but I guess they will now. Look at me, I'm doing The Robot. I also have a mic in my eye. The only good thing about this picture is that I know if I ever wear my boots at night and walk down a dark road I will be saved by their flourescence.

I will conclude my update with this story.

Vinh Hua, who is a student at the New School in NYC (though originally from Boston) also performed. He's bold. I say this not because he is a young poet, but because he asked me what it was like to be "old". I was sorta perplexed as to what that meant since I am only 26, but Michelle, who is 8 years older than I am and is always happy to let everyone know she’s the oldest and wisest in the room, was unphased. He basically explained that Yellow Rage was a part of the first generation of APIA poets with Taiyo, and Giles and Two Tongues who have inspired the next generation of poets, meaning him. I guess that meant that we were old school and he was new. I could appreciate that. YR has been around since 2001 like when many spoken word artists were coming together and for us, those 5 years just flew by so fast, but I guess for other people alot happened. Taiyo co-signed on my deduction and we made a joke about having some sort of Lifetime Achievement Spoken Award Honors thing happen. Hmmm...doesn't sound so bad. But I want a badass Southeast Asian girl to redo my poems, like when Lil Kim did it for MC Lyte at the Hip Hop Honors Award.

I need sleep.

- Catzie

Thursday, November 02, 2006

November's here! Reunions begin!

Hope everyone’s Halloween was fun, and that you are adjusting to Daylight’s Savings Time. I've adjusted just perfectly. With an extra hour to sleep, I still can't make it to work on time. Oh well, here are some pictures from Halloween's festivities.

First up, Mary and Biggie. They look suspiciously high don't they?

We ran into Flav and his newest girl. Her clock said "Hoops" but I don't remember Hoops looking like that.

Biggie and Pac, in their finer moments. Can you believe she researched and drew all those tattoos?

Next we went to a Studio 54 Themed party, but for some reason in this close-up I looked like one of those crazy-looking Japanese girls who almost got kidnapped by Gwen Stefani. Meanwhile, Tupac Jr. decided to switch her headrags up and become a fortune teller.

Here was the full extent of my outfit. I didnt really plan on who or what I was gonna be, but I kinda looked like Sharon Stone from Casino. Many Italian Jewish racial jokes ensued that night. I know they did.

Only on the dancefloor does the 80's meet the 70's. Groovy. Far out. Wait, was that the 60's? Well it’s Thursday and the weekends are almost here. I'm headed out to the Big Apple and getting ready to see some extended fam.

This here is the Organics Thoughts Crew, they're from Jersey. The emcee in their group just happens to be a female and her name is Elisa, or El Gambina as they call her. She’s making a funny face for the camera here but on the mic, she’s a fucking beast. When I first saw OTS perform at Columbia University back in 2001, they did a song called Verbal Approach and she came onstage, and I couldn't believe what I heard:

"Yo I’m a female emcee/ holding a license to burn/ I got my microphone in check so now it’s your turn/don't underestimate me/ just sit back and learn/ give me full attention and the respect that I deserve..."

I had found my new hero. I videotaped their show and watched it over and over again just to learn her words. Months later I proved how much of a groupie I was and invited OTS to Philly to share the stage with us, DJ Kuttin' Kandi and Rholi Ro. Turned out to be a really fun show. Now that I think about it, I'm a little intimidated knowing that Michelle, Cool Calm Pete and El are all Korean and dope with the lyrics. Hmmm, I guess Koreans do do it better. Anyway I'm going to see Elisa perform for this benefit event, here she explains in her own words what she's doing:

"BE THE CHANGE sponsors ELEVEN Ugandan kids. They throw parties to raise money for their school’s tuition, housing and food. They are sending a team of 13 people (seven New Yorkers) to Uganda this December to register the kids for their 2007 school year! They still need A LOT of support, so I thought it would be a great way for me and my friends to get involved and help them out!"

You can check her out this Friday at Party for Uganda, 161 W.22nd between 6th and 7th avenues. Cost is $20 and its open bar all night. And peep this, she even got press in New York's Timeout. Go head, girl.

Next in this line of reunions are Norm, REX, and KP aka the Pacifics.

These guys are originally from Chicago, they don't get go out to to the east coast much, but's it's mad fun when they come through. The last time I saw them was at the Trocadero in Philly in 2004. They just released "The Case", a collabo project with another talented brother, superproducer Illmind (he's a Jersey head too)and have been getting a lot of press lately. The Pacifics deserve every bit of it, they've been doing their thing for a minute now. The first time I ever saw them was with I Was Born With Two Tongues, at that same 2001 Columbia U show where I saw OTS. Damn that must've been THE show to be at, huh? The PACIFICS and Illmind will be performing together this Saturday in NYC with other acts from their label, All Natural, Inc. to showcase at the Scion Strictly Business event during this year's CMJ. They'll be part of an all-day event from 2-4pm in the afternoon. Click on the link below to RSVP, because I think that's the only way to get in.

Before we join Giles, Taiyo, Regie and the rest of the Sulu Fam in Brooklyn, we’re going to finish the night off with a party with the rest of the OTS crew. If you’re in the city come through, there's no dress code and it’s free free free!!!