Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Looky what I found...

So I am going through my camera looking at pictures I took this weekend, and as I keep going back on the playback screen I stumble upon these photos I took when I crashed ECAASU at Penn because our friends Ill Literacy, Magnetic North, Taiyo Na, and Kelly Tsai were all either performing or facilitating a workshop. This was like back in early March... Oh well better late than never right?

The adventure begins with picking up my friend and former Ill Literacy Tour Manager Jon De Castro. Taking a break from booking artists, he and I scheme together to crash ECAASU because if there's anything we've learned in the spoken word business it's that there's power in numbers.
And you can't deny a baby... although Jon thinks all I have to say is "Don't you know who I am"?

Of course Jon requests that we fill up on cheesesteaks before heading out to the show, so I take him to Dalessandro's, which is technically in Roxborough, but my fave Philly spot for cheesesteaks, Jon's Pork Sandwiches, was already closed.

After having our fill we managed to sneak into the artist's Green Room where we meet up with Derek from Magnetic North and Taiyo getting ready for their set. Derek's other half Theresa was running late so we didn't get to take a picture with her, but be on the lookout as they are dropping a new album soon.

If you have a guitar my child will find you. Good thing Taiyo is welcoming of babies!

This could be an album cover! Taiyo and Aditi's greatest hits, haha...

This is Hari Kondabolu. Even though he was quiet and very isolated from the rest of the room, we found out later he was just really trying to get his comedy routine down, and killed it onstage. Originally from Queens, Hari is making a name for himself as a comedian, and I am all about supporting comedians of color who do not sell out to get a laugh. Click here to see a clip of Hari at work.

Spoken word artists are normally not that excited about keynote speeches but when the special invited gust is none other than Helen Zia, aka the Godmother of Asian American consciousness and identity (okay I made that up, that's not her real title but if you study Asian American culture her writings will definitely be a part of your reading). Of course EVERYONE ELSE showed up so the artist groupies friends got stuck with these high ass far ass balcony seats and I could not get a clear picture of Helen. But it all ended up being worth seeing her speak as she mentioned Laos and I got to shout out "Laos in the House" in response. Ha!

The next day I visited Ill Literacy in their workshop on how to be a better activist on your campus.
And then to Kelly's workshop on writing spoken word poetry, which was also very physically interactive.
Aditi got to play too, which was fun for her but stressful for me as I was worried about her being accidentally stepped on and eating random skittles on the floor. Afterwards what was left of the Spoken Word forces joined together and ate a nice dinner at Bubble House.

And my child ate sweet potato fries for the first time. Yay. Anyway be sure to catch me and Kelly at this week's and next week's Home: Far and Near shows at the Asian Arts Initiative.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Monday, March 22, 2010

Home: Far and Near and Battle of the Barrios

Catzie--and lots of our friends--will be performing at the Asian Arts Initiative this weekend and next. Check out details below.

Then on Sun, March 28, we're in the Battle of the Barrios at Rutgers University (cuz ya know we love our Filipino peeps :) Details below on that, too.

Hope you can come.


Home: Far and Near

A festival of Asian American performance
Thursday - Saturday, March 25 - 27, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, April 3, 7:30 p.m.
$15 general admission; student + group discounts available
$40 for all 4 shows

A festival unique to Philadelphia, convening Asian America's most talented and provocative performers working in diverse disciplines, from right here in Philly and across the country -- some classic, some cutting edge, all unforgettable. Asian Arts Initiative's 2010 Artists Exchange, Home: Far and Near, brings them together to explore broad themes of immigration, displacement, and the concept of home.

It starts with three nights of not-to-miss showcases of solo work:

NIGHT #1: Dynamic Dance and Theater
Thursday, March 25, 7:30 p.m.
Featured Artists: Makoto Hirano, Kristina Wong

NIGHT #2: Superstars of Spoken Word
Friday, March 26, 7:30 p.m.
Featured Artists: Regie Cabico, Robert F. Karimi, Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai

NIGHT #3: History in the Making
Saturday, March 27, 7:30 p.m.
Featured Artists: Dan Kwong, Anula Shetty, Catzie Vilayphonh

Then, following a week of intensive collaboration, our star-studded collective of artists from around the country debut a new ensemble work-in-progress that invokes their creativity to speak to common community concerns:

NIGHT #4: New Work
Saturday, April 3, 7:30 p.m.
Featuring Entire Artists Exchange Ensemble

Thursday, March 25, 7:30 p.m.
Featured Artists: Makoto Hirano, Kristina Wong

Filled with deliciously intense movement inspired by real events and ideas, Philadelphia-based MAKOTO HIRANO investigates Hip Hop and House culture that pays homage to Gene Kelly and Richard Pryor. During its development, Boom Bap Tourism: The Lost Tapes was discovered: material omitted from the final version has now resurfaced as an alluring/ pre/sequel.

With trademark humor and irreverent wit, KRISTINA WONG shares stories of moving through car-centric Los Angeles on foot, bus, and piggyback. The Wong Sans Wheels Chronicles is a love story about a girl and the green-living biodiesel car that betrayed her, a treatise on consumerism, and one woman's guide to recession survival tactics -- sure to leave you clutching your belly with laughter!

Friday, March 26, 7:30 p.m.
Featured Artists: Regie Cabico, Robert F. Karimi, Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai

Tracing his orbit from his Catholic family roots and dreams of Broadway musicals to the spoken word slam scene and back again, D.C.-based performance poet and comedian REGIE CABICO in Unbuckled is a one-man cabaret infused with humor, irreverent pop-culture references, and his ever-enduring perspective as a queer Filipino artist.

With the Iranian Hostage Crisis, the birth of '80s conservatism, and Bay Area suburban teenage angst as backdrop, Minnesota-based ROBERT KARIMI and performance partner DJ D DOUBLE presents elements of Self (the remix), an autobiographical tale of an Iranian/Guatemalan boy struggling to make sense of manhood, nationhood, and neighborhood with the voices and music of his community helping him along.

Chicago-born, Brooklyn-based Taiwanese American spoken word artist KELLY ZEN-YIE TSAI explores what it means to belong (or not) in this modern-day choreopoem for diasporic divas who have considered expatriation when identity ain't enough. From an anti-war protest in Chicago to a language school in Taipei to an activist enclave in rural Mexico, Sleep on Wood chronicles Kelly's global search for self and salvation and how actually finding "home" just might be one of the scariest endeavors of all.

Saturday, March 27, 7:30 p.m.
Featured Artists: Dan Kwong, Anula Shetty, Catzie Vilayphonh

Equal parts travelogue, satirical dance review, and irreverent history lesson, It's Great 2B American follows award-winning California-based solo performance artist DAN KWONG through his recent travels to Asia and his ongoing search for an American identity beyond arrogance, denial, or guilt. This evening will achieve no less than transforming your concept of privilege!

Ever-versatile Philadelphia-based filmmaker ANULA SHETTY delivers not one, not two, but three short reveries! Uncle is a dark tale about a favorite uncle who starts making too many free phone calls. Too Taboo recounts the sexual awakening of a young girl who ventures into forbidden pleasures and receives moral lessons from her class teacher. Let Them Eat Cake describes returning home to Bombay and discovering a different relationship to class distinctions, cleanliness, and food.

Philly-born and raised CATZIE VILAYPHONH of Yellow Rage fame performs her signature piece Laos in the House, an eye-opening spoken word tribute to the Lao American experience drawing on cultural references to food, language, and the ethnic ambiguity of an obscure nation. In addition to her classic crowd-pleaser, Catzie also debuts a brand-new performance about life as a single mother and her reluctant return home to "the hood."

Saturday, April 3, 7:30 p.m.
Entire Artists Exchange Ensemble


Battle of the Barrios
Sunday, March 28

A Benefit to Raise Money for Typhoon Ondoy Relief--
All Proceeds Will Be Donated to Ayala USA

Trayes Hall
Douglass Campus Center
Douglass Campus
Rutgers University
New Brunswick, NJ

Tickets $10
T-Shirts $10
Doors Open at 6pm for pre-sale
Doors Open at 6:45pm for all other tickets
Show starts at 7:30pm

Sponsored by the Rutgers Association of Philippine Students (RAPS)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Yellow Rage and SULU DC in the Washington Post!

Hello beautiful peoples!

Um, yeah, so I know it's been a minute. I've been preoccupied. But I'm here to let yall know that we made it in the press again recently, this time in DC. Catzie and I featured at SULU DC last month. Curated by an amazing and talented crew of APIA poets and artists including Regie Cabico (Love you, Regie!), Jenny Lares, Simone Jaconson, Alex Cena, and Brian Wang, SULU DC is another performance space dedicated to showcasing APIA artists and connecting our communities. Last month, a reporter and photographer from The Washington Post was hanging out at SULU DC and our mugs made their way in the paper. Check it out:

Washington Post article

Washington poetry: Sulu DC showcases Asian American poets
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 5, 2010

Last month's Sulu DC was an exercise in extremes. The showcase for Asian American and Pacific Islander American poets and other performers featured Vijai Nathan, a rising local stand-up comic of Indian descent who regaled the crowd with slightly ribald tales of her dating woes. At the other end of the spectrum was Yellow Rage, the Philadelphia-based duo of Michelle Myers and Catzie Vilayphonh. At times speaking over each other, and at others reading solo, the Korean American Myers and Laotian American Vilayphonh delivered often-barbed observations about being marginalized because of their appearance, language and traditions.

The tonal shifts are both intentional and, according to Sulu co-founder Simone Jacobson, inevitable. Although the lineup is carefully vetted by Jacobson and her co-curators, the goal is to maintain the same freewheeling fusion of moods that you might find at an open mike -- minus the sometimes-dicey quality.

About that name: Sulu co-founder Regie Cabico says he wanted something open-ended. True, Sulu is the name of an island in the Philippines, where Cabico's family is from, but most people hear it and think "Star Trek." That association works well, says Cabico, who wryly notes that George Takei's character on the show was, counter to stereotype, not the alien. But Cabico also thinks the old TV tag line could just as easily apply to what Sulu DC is trying to do: to boldly go where no man has gone before.

What to expect: A lively mix of spoken word, music, stand-up comedy, film and other offerings, and a diverse crowd. "The 'Asian' is about what's up on stage,' says Jacobson, "not who's in the audience."

If you go: Sulu is held the third Saturday of the month starting at 7 p.m. Its current home is Almaz restaurant, 1212 U St. NW (Metro: U Street). $10; $8 for students. The March 20 show will feature poets Sahra Nguyen and Sham-e-Ali Al-Jamil and comic-storyteller Brian Wang. Visit, e-mail or join the "Sulu DC" group on Facebook.

-- Michael O'Sullivan

There's also a photo gallery from the show and more of the performers that night. Check it out here:

SULU DC, Feb 20, 2010, Washington Post Photo Gallery

Now that we're plugging stuff, let's talk about upcoming events/shows.

FAMILY STYLE, Fri, March 19
at The Asian Arts Initiative
$5-$10 Sliding Scale Admission

March's open mic features poet SHAM-E-ALI AL-JAMIL and the theme "HOLDING UP HALF THE SKY: A Tribute to Women."

Our feature for our special March edition of Family style is the beautiful Sham-e-ali Al-Jamil

SHAM-E-ALI AL-JAMIL is a poet who was born in Hyderabad, India, and raised in both the UK and the US. Her poetry has appeared in publications such as SALT Journal, SAMAR, Roots & Culture Magazine, and Mizna, and can be found in anthologies such as Shattering the Stereotypes: Muslim Women Speak Out, Living Islam Out Loud: American Muslim Women Speak, and Shout Out: Women of Color Respond to Violence. Sham-e-Ali has performed her poetry internationally at various events including the Oxford Literary Festival and the "Sister Fire Cultural Arts Tour of Radical Women of Color Artists and Activists."

Hope to see you there!

SULU DC, SAT, 3/20

Almaz Restaurant and Lounge
1212 U St, NW (U Street Metro, green/yellow)
$10 General Admission

Michelle performs solo at SULU DC--and Sham is the feature that night! And we're celebrating how beautiful and strong women are! And there's a dance party afterwards! Happy happy joy joy! Hope you can make it!

Love always,