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Quest2Know

Up close and personal, I ask all the artists i interview the same questions, to me its more interesting that way.
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1990: yong soon min- 1991: eileen kage, leslie komori, valerie soe-1992: haruko okano, sook yin lee, chick rice, robert ito, mona oikawa -1993: manuel ocampo-1994: jon jang -1996:yong soon min, miya masaoka, d.a. tsufura, robert ito, christine choy, eric koyanagi, eric nakamura, christopher lee -1997: chris chan lee, justin lin, quentin lee -1998: lynne yamamoto, kerri sakamoto -1999: david henry hwang, mona oikawa, 2000: philip kan gotanda -2002:yoko fujimoto 2003: kerri sakamoto.2004: hiromi goto -[ bold= who's here ]

On August the 3rd, 2002 we peeped the infamous Electrical Girl on the scene  checkin' out the festivities at the Powell Street Festival.   I put the word out that i was lookin' for her, it was dinnertime and my posse  had settled on the Salmon dinner for $8 canadian, that was a cool deal on our US wallets.
 
We take over an abandoned table and chairs.  The Bees found us and were attacking our  bbq'd salmon slabs (best i've tasted this year) - the main attractant was the 7-up, the Canadian kind is less sugary with more lemonlime taste. So i armed myself with a rolled up Japanese Bulletin and took aim at the single yellowjacket that had dibs on our food. Aggressive attacks. so i took aim and went for the kill.
success.   a few minutes no buzzing.  B pheromones filled the immediate area and then we had a small recon team of B's taking aim, one by one they got slammed into the table. i had no regrets.
 
Here comes Ms Pink.. in high contrast colour of white and black..terry watada gave a tipoff on the colour scheme. Made a B-line towards her.  Called out her name she turns around,
Geez, she sure looks better than the PR shot in the book sleeve.  She should really use a better picture, she is much cuter and stylish than the photo presents her as. 
 
Ms Pink will deny her love of pink, so i heckle her about her fast acting blush response.   But alas,  the shining side-light of sunset was beaming a shot of pink from the edges of her blouse. 
 
 i: Are u a "rat" ?
k: NOooo, I'm a "pig" ! 
 
i: is your new book out yet?
k: no, i just finished writing it.. i am really getting sick of the other one...
 
i: can u tell me about the new one?
( she's telling me , but i am preoccupied by the presence of more bees hovering at my ankles... i look down )
 
k:  Oh, my--- they really DO like you ??
i:  i have bad bee karma today, i killed their friends.
 
 
 
 
 

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An Interview with Miya Masaoka, a performance artist and jazz musician/composer who lives in San Francisco, California.

June 1999. I missed the Gay Parade for this.

Call Miya up on Saturday ~11:30am.
Hey Miya, im here til Monday, call if youre around.
She called back~5:30pm same day. I called her back that night, left msg 11:30pm...i figured she was busy and i probably wouldnt b seeing her this round. She called back on Sunday before 11 am (10:30am or so?). She was in good spirits, ROVA had performed her composition the WAY she had envisioned it to be. A performer high was in effect.

Made an appointment for interview over dinner.

Went to her house after touring around the city with WeiMing
got to Miya's. I tapped lightly on her door, WM says to knock harder, i tell her that Miya has superhearing. The door opens and i walk in and we sit down, its super hot out.
I've never seen her so chirpy, the performance musta been good, i don't think i want to see her in a bad mood.

WM says we're here to take u to dinner, Miya snaps " I'm not hungry yet, we'll leave when i feel hungry!" We wait and wait. WM falls asleep on the sofa, i check out her house and play with Fur the cat.

Miya gets up from a conversation and sits down at her koto and starts up a frenzy of string plucking. I walk over and watch..there's a narrow beam of sunlight cutting thru her curtains and refracted light flitters across the flury of fingers and strings. It sounds like a swarm of angry bees.
I go back and sit down. I'm NOT in the mood for hearing
angry bees.
 
 
***at We B Sushi, the interview from hell:

WM: What kind of music do you listen to?

MM: I ONLY WANT ONE PERSON TO INTERVIEW ME!!!
(she stabs her sushi and throws a glob of wasabi into the shoyu and stabs it again and slams it into her mouth and sucks it down- Swallow. And now she's narrowing her eyes.)
I ONLY ANSWER THE ONES I WANT TO ANSWER!!!
--Uh, oh. THIS is gonna be an interesting night out with Insecta!

to be continued




justin  & ihk-2003-photo by wing fong.

April 18th, 2003--the seattle screening of BLT by justin lin @ the varsity theater...i met up with my new posse of Dragon Women at Ruby's on The Ave.. instead of the original mtg place of Flowers..-since i didnt have the digits of one quirky chick i had to keep walking outside to see if she was waitin up there.. didnt see her and gettin' tired of gettin' up and lookin'..so i skewered a note on the metal decorations by the door.. the 4th time out on scout duty  i notice some familiar sideburns so i walk up for a closer look. Yo, its the forever cool JUSTIN LIN..we exchange hugs and hello's, we make plans for  dinner and an interview for the next evening. he's the best, i luv this guy!  SO i am still waitn for the canasian who has named her business van The Lurch..watch out.  Last time i go lookin' (ihk waits for no one) -- duh.. she finally gets there..we go back to Ruby's and join the group. some o' the posse orders german chocolate cake..ugh-too sweet and goopy--it will make me sleepy. i just had a coca cola, i wasnt hungry, i had a steak earlier. The phrase of the evening was " how do U know lauren? ".

Promo Card for BLT

Mizzu Pinku

Kerri Sakamoto and IHK..

Draggin'Angels -photo/IHK.

postbutoh1.jpg

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1999

David Henry Hwang

DAVID HENRY HWANG

EARLIEST CHILDHOOD MEMORY?
i do, but i don't think they are particularly interesting. my earliest childhood memory is probably sitting on the counter in the kitchen watching my mother... i have a memory of wanting--really wanting one of those 'slippy-slides. where you have the big piece of vinyl that you put down and run a hose down it-! I REALLY wanted one of those! my parents got me one and i invited a bunch of kids over to do it and for some reason..i was like suddenly scared to go on it myself. That's a few childhood memories!

CHILDHOOD FAVORITE COLOR
Green, i think.

FAVORITE COLOR NOW
I like that burnished...um..to be honest, I really like purple.

HAVE U EVER HAD A PARANORMAL EXPERIENCE?
I used to have a ..well, I don't know if it's a paranormal experience or psychologically weird--uh, I used to have sleep paralysis. It's like one of those Maxine Hong Kingston stories where the ghost is sitting on you! Laughter.

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Lynne Yamamoto

Lynne Yamamoto, 1998.

What's your earliest childhood memory?
God, I really..they're really dumb ones, though. Like playing hopscotch and slipping and falling on the back of my head. Being tumbled in--I used to visit my grandmother on the island of Lanai and there's this beach that we always used to go swimming in and before I knew how to swim really well--if you get caught in the wave, it tumbles you. So I remember being tumbled by the wave and all the water going in your nose and feeling like you're completely drowning. I can't remember anything else. It's hard for me to remember that far back, actually.

Even if it's not even that far back?
Oh, well I think another one was that my brother and I climbed on top of the bathroom sink and were playing with water and we got the bathroom all wet and so my mom made us go to bed or something like that.

Did you have a favorite color when you were a child?
-I don't think so. Not that I recall, actually.

Do you have a favorite color now?
-It depends on what it's for. I really like purple. I guess that's my favorite color.
Deep purple, or what shade of purple?
Blue-violet.
My favorite color.

Favorite Color is PINK!

In what ways did your political or community activism influence the subject of what you write about or your approach to writing?     Well, it's hard to say because it's all integrated in a way. I guess I would say what I learned about internment. It was definitely something that made me very angry and was very sad and tragic to me. I think one phase of my life--doing very concrete kind of activist work--was a really helpful and healthy outlet for me. There was this point where I stepped back and started to write more about it.

What kind of writing did you do?    I guess I was turning to my own personal writing by then that had to do with my own sense of my self in the world. When I was growing up, my mother had this picture of her brother who had died in the internment camp sitting in the dining room. He was always this person she always talked about, and aunts and family friends talked about [him] as this really special person. He died at age nineteen I the camp. That was sort of the focal point in relation to internment. I related to it through my mother's sadness about it. She had been twelve or thirteen when he died, and I just couldn't imaging going through that experience of being in this camp in this really desolate place, sitting by your brother's bedside as he died. I've always admired my mother that she went through this experience and thought what a strong person she was.

You said that when you first starting writing it was about exploring your sense of self in the world.

 What do mean by "sense of self?"     I guess that had a lot to do with racial identity and being racially different, growing up in a mainly white suburb, and in coping with that difference. Racism was definitely part of my childhood.

When you first starting writing, what kind of writing was it?     Fiction. I started writing [as an] undergraduate. I took one of those writing workshop classes and wrote intensely personal stories that were really about being different racially in terms of the body. Feelings of alienation, about not fitting in the white ideal of beauty. And I also wrote about my uncle, his death.

You focus a lot on the body and physical detail--whether they're imperfections, or people's self-perceptions.

Can you talk about ways that you use the body in your writing and why?     The racist persecution of Japanese Canadians and Americans really has to do with the physical difference. It's not like there were Germans who were interned in the same way Japanese Canadians were. I think it was really clear that it was because they racially different. They were the racial "other." When you look back at old archival images from newspapers in British Columbia dating back to when the Japanese first came, you see the depictions [are] so hideous and ugly.

I think when people go through this experience of racism, they start to internalize that, and start to feel that they themselves are ugly.

Another thing Irene and I notice is the use of hair. I guess that kind of goes along with use of the body and other physical characteristics, but can you talk about -

-what hair means to you and why you use it in your work?         Well, I think, as you say, hair is like a key racial signifier of difference. But also, in the novel itself, it's also something that is a point of beauty, say, for the character Chisako. I guess in that way, I was influenced by some Japanese writers. I guess the first writer who influenced me in that way was Kawabata Yasunari. When I first read him in my early twenties I had a sort of revelation, I guess. He eroticizes the Japanese woman's body, and the way he describes hair--black hairas not simply being black, but different shades of black. And to discover the beauty in that--in black hair--but also the nuances of it and the variations within it. That sense of aesthetics, I guess, was kind of a revelation to me.

How do you respond to the criticism that by identifying as an "Asian Canadian" writer you are ghettoizing yourself?       I dont have that problem, because I feel like theres a need for work about Asian Americans and Asian American experiences. Theres a need for representation. Even though theres so many Asian Americans and (Asian) Canadians in North America, theres such a dearth of images. I feel there's that need. I dont really have a problem with that--feeling ghettoized--but to be honest, I feel like the Asian Canadian/ Asian American audience is the most important audience to me. I dont want to be exclusive, but I speak to that audience first.

continued.

CCL, ihk, MB, ML.
CCL and his Interviewers at Saigon Pearl!

Yong Soon Min 1990.

YONG SOON MIN/installation artist

What generasian are u?
1.5
What the Koreans would call "1.5", but closer to "1.8", between first and second generation--an immigrant-technically, i've been here so long..assimilated.

Can u speak Korean?
..at a three year old's level, no writing or reading.

Any proverb than informs u and your work?
-It depends on what fortune cookie I have?
Live Fast, Die Young?

[this interview conducted in the car while sightseeing in Seattle]

How do u define identity, what role does it play in your life?
-----Identity, the big I-word, it's a very complex matter..i think, um, i guess .. I position myself in many ways at different times, different situations, different ways.
...emphasize different parts of my identity: female, korean, asian, third world--it's contingent and variable.

Is there anything essential about being Asian, Asian American & Korean American?
-------That's also contingent. There may be times when it becomes politically viable and necessary to become essentialist about Korean. To be able to organize and bring together a group of people under that rubrick.
On a theoretical level there's a lot of problems with it.

Do u ever censor yourself?
-----I don't want to think that i do. But i probably do only in so for as--one major question that always enters into the making of a work, is the consideration for the audience.

A concious consideration, there may be entering into the work some censorship ..who am i speaking to?..what target audience?..primary audience, but not exclusive to.

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a conversation with Miya Masaoka, 1996:

I: What did u find most interesting about the Ainu (people)? What was the most interesting aspect of Ainu culture to u?
 
M:  the people, how open they were, how interested they were in Japanese American existence and experience.  
 
I met the leading Ainu activist in the world.. we had this communication, and she's taught me traditional Ainu songs and has invited me to what she calls 'Ainu Land' performing with Ainu musicians and Ainu people..we had this very strong bond.
For her, she identified more with me as a Japanese American, than with Japanese in Japan. Minorities here (in Japan) have experienced racism and different kinds of discrimination, was something she could relate to as an Ainu woman.
The discrimination of Ainu people is very strong in terms of jobs, schools, socially, economically..in any of those situations.. we had a very strong bond from the beginning.
 
I: Can u describe how their music is different from the mainland?
M: The Ainu music is very, very different from mainland Japanese, just as the language, and everything else about Ainu culture.
 
The scales are different, and certainly the Ainu language is different. Ainu music very much resembles most indigenous and native music.  Like for example, Native American music in terms of the tones and the singing. It's very engaging and it's really fascinating how much of their culture resembles Native American culture.  The singing, there's different rounds that the women sing, their instruments...
 
For example, there is an Ainu koto called the TONKURI, it's shaped different from the Japanese koto. It has a little ball inside, a little piece of wood, you can kind of clang around and you can hear it... this is the SOUL of the instrument. That's where it connected to the idea that Shintoism actually shares, that the instruments have souls and plucking the strings for example is a way to release the sound and to  release the soul of an instrument. So that REALLY  affected me, I incorporate THAT into my being, and into the approach I play music.
 
 

SHOYU, Pour It On!!