Michelle Borok's Posts
Last week there was Dumb Starbucks that LA lined up for, and the news that Subway was using a chemical found in yoga mats to make their ever-fresh breads. It’s been an exciting time for global brands!
The suspect chemical, azodiacarbonamide, is banned in Europe, Australia, and conscientious Singapore and Japan, but still fine for everyone else to eat – and we know that pretty much anything goes in China.
Starbucks China has come clean and admitted that they also use azodiacarbonamide in their pastries, and they’re a bit unapologetic about it. It’s considered a legal food additive in the U.S. as well as China, just maybe not the most PR friendly of ingredients.
Funnily enough, Subway China has come out and stated that they don’t use azodiacarbonamide in their restaurant’s breads. That’s mostly because their bread comes from New Zealand where the chemical is banned as a food additive.
That’s a globalization WIN!
Last fall we wrote about bone marrow registry drives fueled by love for Leni Hsiao, a now nine month-old hapa cutie (Chinese and Jewish) who was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia. There have been several fundraising and awareness events inspired by Leni, and now one is coming to LA.
The event will feature artwork and items from these generous creators, with all proceeds going towards Leni’s medical expenses:
Alelli Tanghal, Alice Dison, Amanda Lopez, Anthony Samaniego, Aryo Toh Djojo, Bam and Lanie Barcena, Bill McMullen, Cern, Charlie Becker, Chase, Claw Money, Dallas Clayton, Daniel Racz, David Choe, Deanne Cheuk, Dez Einswell, Dorothy Hong, Dwindle, Eileen San Felipe, Faile, Gary Baseman, Geoff McFetridge, Hassan Rahim, HVW8 Gallery, Indie 184, James Jean (Hundreds), Jessica Rivas, Jordin Isip, Justin Krietemeyer, Katsuo Design, Kristofferson San Pablo, Matt Goldman, Michael C. Hsiung, Nomade, Our Open Road/Adam Harteau, Perfekt World, Rachel Pitler Hsiung, Raphael Tanghal, Rich Jacobs, Rich One (NASA Crew), Rich Tu, Ryan McGinness, Sayori Wada, Shepard Fairey, Stephen Platt, Stephen Stickler, Steven Harrington, Tamar Levine, Theme Magazine, Tim Biskup, Tobin Yelland, Tofer Chin, URNY, Vanessa Salle, Vashtie, Vicki Yeung and others. Other items are available to bid on by Adidas, Girl/Eric Koston, Han Cholo, Innovative Leisure Records, Jen Lu/Hook Ups Decks, Karlita Designs, Knotwork LA, Knowhow Shop, lovejac, The Oinkster, Maximiliano, Sony BMG, Public School, Rick Williams, Talib Kweli, Warby Parker, YogaVibe and more. Bake sale goods provided by Ticings.
In an interview with Amanda Hsiao, mom to Leni and her big sister Mae, we learn more about leukemia, Leni, and the love she’s inspired.
GR: Can you talk a bit about Leni’s initial diagnosis and what kind of support was available for you as a family dealing with leukemia?
AH: Leni’s initial diagnosis was obviously a shock to us. We are not from families that have a history of a blood cancer, or any type of cancer for that matter. We come from very different national and religious backgrounds which is thought to lessen the odds of having a genetic diseases or abnormalites, so it took a long time to accept what we were hit with. Also, the fact that her type of leukemia is extremely and incredibly rare, it made us even more shocked then we already were.
Immediate support came from our amazing friends who helped us with our other daughter Mae, and our dog Luna. Support also came from our wealth of friends who volunteered to order us dinner every night at the hospital. You cannot imagine the gratitude I have for this. Support came from friends who ran our websites, blogs, and Instagram to help us get the word out for help, support and awareness. Support came from an amazing team of doctors and nurses who initially treated her and ultimately saved her life. Support came from charities like Friends of Karen and Red Dog Foundation – just two of a bunch that immediately helped us financially. Ironically, we consider ourselves lucky in an extremely unlucky situation with what support we had as this was all happening.
Singapore is a pretty “plugged-in” kinda place, but watch where you stick your charger when you’re on the go.
Asia One reported a recent court decision for a girl who was fined $400 SGD (About $313 USD) for using a Mass Rapid Transit electrical socket to charge her mobile phone at a station outlet that was unlocked.
Public comments have been mixed. Some people believe she was truly stealing electricty from the MRT, and others believe the fine was harsh and she should have been let off with a warning. All I know, is when I ever go to Singapore, I’m keeping my hands in my pockets (but not too deep, lest someone suspect public lewdness) and I’m not touching ANYTHING.
Back in October, the building home to Chongryon (the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan) in downtown Tokyo’s Chiyoda district went up on the auction block for a second time. The winning bid went to the mysterious Mongolian Avar LLC for 5.01 billion JPY (about 49 million USD).
The Korean residents that Chongryon was established for have long been known to be North Korean sympathizers, and the headquarters has been referred to as a de facto embassy in Japan.
Yesterday, it was reported that Avar’s bid to purchase the building was denied by the Tokyo District Court. The court blamed it on photocopies of required documents being submitted instead of originals, but there were also rumors that the business address in Ulaanbaatar provided by Avar LLC didn’t actually exist.
It looked bad for Avar from the get-go. Mongolian companies don’t own a lot of property outside of Mongolia, there were doubts about whether or not Avar could pay the winning bid, and questions about whether or not the purchase was actually being carried out on behalf of North Korea.The first time the building went up for auction, a Buddhist priest made the winning bid, but couldn’t come up with the cash and was found to have close ties to North Korean officials.
The UB Post published a short interview with a rather curt President of Avar back when the decision to finalize the sale was first postponed.
Here is a brief interview with President of Avar LLC, Ch.Erdenebat.
-The Japanese court has delayed the decision to proceed with the sale of the Chongryon site. Why has the court decision been postponed for the building you’ve purchased at auction?
-The court decision is delayed because of various reports related to the auction by the press and media of Japan and Mongolia. The court decision was supposed to be issued last Tuesday. But a court decision will be issued soon.
-Your company has not been active before this? How did you participate in the auction?
-Our company has not been established for a long time. It is true that we have not been active. The company participated in the auction via a Japanese law firm. It does not matter how active the company is to participate in the auction.
-Your obliged 5.01 billion JPY is a very large amount of money. How did you organize the funds?
-We will gather it through a foreign investment fund. After the court has made its decision I will give you specific information.
-According to reports by some Japanese press, Member of the State Great Khural D.Sumiyabazar and professional sumo wrestler and 68th grand champion Asashoryu D.Dagvadorj are connected to the purchase, or the Japanese government is behind this to bring back its citizens who were kidnapped in North Korea.
-There are no links with any government bodies in Mongolia, Japan, North Korea or South Korea. It is just a business. Member of the State Great Khural D.Sumiyabazar is the husband of my sister Ch.Michidmaa. That is why people say that D.Sumiyabazar is involved in the purchase.
-Is Asashoryu D.Dagvadorj connected to the purchase?
Forlon Funnymaker Paul Hornschemeier, and friend to GR, waged a one-man war against mainstream media giant America’s Funniest Home Videos, now known as America’s Funniest Videos (AVF) since no one makes “home” videos anymore. And he won.
I thought I had to move to Mongolia to watch funny home videos on Russian television channels (a lot of them get a little rapey, which is kind of gross) but no, AVF has stayed on the air all this time! The internet has killed the integrity of many things – zines, dating, genuine friendship, activism – but AVF has prevailed!!
Things quickly escalated and AVF got their feelings hurt. Come on, guys, they’ve had a Youtube channel for almost FOUR WHOLE YEARS now!
Eventually they blocked him.
It was a fun read. AVF is really sensitive about their work, and very proud of all those late 80s VHS tapes that they have been putting up online. Twitter Wars are my new favorite.
Pick up a copy of All and Sundry for more fun with Paul.
Uuganaa Ramsay went to the UK on a teaching scholarship in 2000, and more than a decade later – now a mother and author in Scotland – she continues to educate. Her newly published memoir, “Mongol” was released in e-book format on Human Rights Day, December 10, 2013, and will be available in paperback on January 16.
The book explores the junction of her life growing up in rural Mongolia, adapting as an immigrant in Britain, facing the challenge of being a mother of a child with Down’s Syndrome, and living with loss. The label of “Mongol” impacts her deeply in the memoir, as it shifts from a symbol of pride in Ramsay’s heritage to a word used to alienate, dehumanize and insult. The loss of her son Billy inspired her to share his story, tightly woven into her own.
As Mongolia responds to continued worldwide efforts to improve awareness for the rights and dignity of the differently-abled, Ramsay is on a parallel crusade to educate people about what it truly means to be “Mongol” and what that label is and is not.
Ramsay’s story is one that has interested me as it intersects so many issues that I believe deserve a voice. She’s written the story of an immigrant, marginalization, disability, and dealing with loss. I’m happy to support more voices like hers surfacing, especially to speak for Mongolian identity, which is so often smothered in stereotype and the frenzy for foreign investment opportunities.
Earlier this month I had the privilege of visiting Darkhan, Mongolia’s Shonhoodoi Circus School. This fall, the International Women’s Association of Mongolia (IWAM) was preparing for its winter jacket drive and asked if I could help find some children who might best benefit from the donated winter jackets they’d be collecting. The director of Darkhan Elite 22, the school where I teach English part-time, suggested the Shonhoodoi Circus School and provided a list of names and the ages of the students there. When the jackets were gathered, washed and ready for distribution, the women of IWAM drove up to Darkhan from Ulaanbaatar to deliver them.
Before the hand-over happened, we got a sneak preview of the circus performances that the children were preparing for; a competition in Ulaanbaatar, and a hometown debut at Darkhan’s Zaluuchuud Theatre.
The performers of Shonhoodoi are kids who have very little, or have lost what most of us take for granted. There are orphans, abandoned and otherwise disadvantaged children in this bunch, but if you didn’t know their stories, all you would see is a group of determined, talented, young athletes.
The school was created by the husband and wife team of Tumuroo and Battsetseg. They started the school to offer these kids an escape, an enviable set of athletic skills, an opportunity to travel, and a chance to be celebrated.
After school, for those who are able to attend one, the kids of Shonhoodoi hurry to practice as often as Tumuroo and Battsetseg can offer them their time. Shonhoodoi has recently been given use of a large facility in the center of Darkhan’s Children’s Park. It was previously occupied by a Korean Baptist church, but city residents said it should be made available to a secular organization that benefitted the city as whole. (The church built a well-funded, gigantic facility right across the street on private land, so happy endings all around.) The Shonhoodoi Circus School has moved in with the bare bones performance fixtures it owns, but with a recent grant promised by the city, it will be renovating the space to make it more practice-friendly. The kids train without padding on the floor save for thin carpets, and have depended on donations for costumes and accessories used in performances. Some local businesses have also pledged to provide hot meals to the kids during their practice sessions. For some, that meal might be the only hot meal that they’d eat that day.
The women of IWAM brought the kids winter jackets and a huge bag of clothes for everyday wear. After the preview performance, as the women loaded back into their vehicle to head home, the kids dug into the clothes and shared what they’d been given. We all fell in love with the kids that day. As routine as their performances may be in the realm of Mongolian circus arts (think Cirque du Soleil style acrobatics) they put tremendous amounts of heart and dedication into what they do.
I invited two Swiss expats living and teaching in Darkhan to attend the Zaluuchuud Theatre performance with us this afternoon. They asked about when to buy tickets and I’d told them not to worry, that the theatre was unlikely to sell out. Wrong. It was a full house for the circus. We grabbed three seats left in the back row of the main floor. All other late arrivals were ushered up to the balcony.
We were late because we were getting gifts for the performers and flowers for a few in particular. The two youngest performers of the circus had captured our hearts when we met them at their practice space. One boy lost his brother, father and mother in a tragic chain of events. He was taken in as one of the newest students of the circus school, and while he hasn’t quite mastered the performing arts, he’s completely nailed the knack for performance. He shines when he gets a chance to have an audience and smiles and laughs his way through his blunders. Another Shonhoodoi performer, at just four years old, has become one of the stars of the show. She also lost her parents. She was given a space in the first grade class at Darkhan Elite – the school has taken in many orphaned children on scholarship – but she had a terrible time adjusting to being on her own in a classroom. She’s been invited back for next year though, and is thriving at the circus school now, performing in an incredibly sweet acrobatics and contortion duet with one of my 8th grade students.
At the conclusion of the performance, after friends and family ran up on stage to give the performers flowers, giant teddy bears and boxes of chocolate, awards were presented to Tumuroo and Battsetseg for the work they’ve done with Shonhoodoi. The performers who won honors at the competition in Ulaanbaatar were also presented with special medals and plaques. All of the children ended up receiving recognition on stage and were applauded for their hard work and accomplishments.
When the curtain fell, I snuck backstage to bring up two packed bags of gifts for the kids in the school. After hugs and congratulations, I stepped back to watch the performers thank the Darkhan government representative who helped them organize the performance at the theatre. They gathered for a group photo wearing their new medals, clutching their gift bags and bouquets and wearing smiles that lit up the emptying theater.
It was a fantastic moment to be able to share with them. I hope to keep supporting Shonhoodoi as their students advance and as the school grows, and share their talents with those who can’t catch them in Darkhan.
Some holiday gift ideas for the beauty conscious in your life, or for the people who are into weird body appliances to do… stuff with…. These items are all available at Japan Trend Shop. Although, if you aren’t looking to seriously frighten your friends and family, do your holiday shopping at Giant Robot instead.
There’s Face Yoga, and then there are these tools to aid you – maybe more like Face Pilates.
This is the Face Slimmer Exercise Mouthpiece. It’s like a Thigh Master for your face. The manufacturer recommends using it for three minutes a day. Practice pronouncing vowels and work your way to a slimmer, firmer face.
Your loved ones may enjoy the Pupeko Anti-Ageing Mouthpiece. This utilizes breathing exercises through a restricted airway to help you tone and tighten those sagging face muscles. Puff your cheeks as you force air out of the mouthpiece and suck in hard. Firm face in no time. No need for botox, but you may want to make sure you aren’t using this at high elevations, if you’re a smoker, or asthmatic.
This is the Hourei Lift Bra, and it looks horribly uncomfortable. Its supposed to be a bra for your sagging face. It will hold up your drooping cheeks and help prevent unsightly laugh lines and jowl-age through the magic of gravity.
One size fits all.
It also totally wouldn’t be weird at all for you to buy these items for yourself. Not one bit. Do it. You aren’t getting any younger.
Graphic designer Yang Liu created a poignant and amusing collection of images juxtaposing German and Chinese cultural identity and perceptions. It’s one of most insightful East meets West summations that I’ve seen in a while.
She nails everything from behavior in line to how the elderly live their lives.
Yang was born in China and raised in Germany. She lives in Berlin and has published a book of the collected images, available for sale on her website.
In a 2007 interview with Notcot.com, she spoke more about her project and how it was received by both sides of the cultural divide.
A K-drama website has revived her infographics, sharing stand-out images from the series.
A little sweeter than your average skate video, this brand new short film by Uukhai, a Mongolian skateboarding association, sheds an intimate, honest and unpretentious light on a burgeoning community in Ulaanbaatar. The video features interviews with skaters involved with the organization, and tons of footage of street skating shot this summer.
This look at a blossoming scene is the perfect inspiration for the jaded. Their old school is young, and they are devoted to bringing up brand new skaters. It’s also become a focal point for expatriates and repatriates. Take nothing for granted, certainly not your pristine sidewalks!
Uukhai is working to raise funds to provide young skaters with decks, components, and eventually an indoor skatepark. Support from abroad is very much welcome, and rarely bestowed on this community. In a city that offers young people very few creative outlets, Uukhai is supporting skating for all the right reasons, and could use your support as well.
THE UUKHAI DOCUMENTARY travels time to bring you the past, present and future of skateboarding in Mongolia. As it is a brand new sport and lifestyle, success is inevitable. Original and local skaters of the city of Ulaanbaatar, explain their perceptions of skateboarding on how it changed their lives and what it could do for the young guns to come follow in their footsteps. Step into their lives and get a firsthand look of what it takes to be an upcoming skateboarder in the dusty, rugged and cold streets of the historic country that is Mongolia.
email: [email protected]
Move over cabbage soup diet, paleo-diet, juice detox, and yes, even you, fetus pill diet. The pursuit of slim has been stepped up a notch with these illegal human flesh diet pills confiscated in Jeju, South Korea, as reported by Medical Daily.
Jeju, Korea’s premiere orange juice and honeymoon destination, is also home to two entrepreneurial Chinese students who thought they could make some extra cash selling trend-hungry Koreans diet pills with human flesh.
Koreans have been going to great extremes in recent decades to be thinner, taller, whiter, and better. Korean beauty trends are being exported all over Asia and beyond – snail cream, anyone? – but apparently there are some people still willing to look to exports for quick beauty solutions, even dehydrated people meat.
Commutes can make people angry. This guy got angry at two women he felt cut in front of him in a line to board a bus at a big public transport station, although witnesses say he was the cutter. While they waited for the next available bus, he raged. From the video it looks like he tries to fart on one woman (twice), and when that fails him, he spits in her face (twice).
The Straits Times reported that police were investigating the incident, but he’s been arrested already and now faces sentencing. Singapore gained “news of the weird” notoreity when word got about its fines and punishment for spitting in public and inappropriately disposing of chewing gum.
Singapore is one metropolis that Banksy and his publicity machine are likely to avoid for any public stunts. The last foreigner sentenced with vandalism in Singapore was Michael Fay. He got caned (only a little bit) and no one cared. Caning is also dished out for visa violations.
The comments from Singaporeans in response to angry bus rider are pretty harsh. They are calling for caning, lifetime jail sentences and beheading. Others are reacting a bit more reasonably though.
No caning planned for the spitter, no beheading either, but he is going to have to talk to some therapists and work on his anger issues.
More timeless than being the “Sexy _______” is the be “Asian” Halloween Costume.
You still have plenty of time to order your favorites online if they’ve sold out of the “Sassy” geisha costumes at Target. Yellow Face will always be as American as apple pie – or at least as American as Apple products made by unpaid Chinese teenagers.
Some guy who thinks he’s going to be the next Rick Rubin, started a Kickstarter account for two D.C. rappers, Pacman and Peso. Their benefactor formed the rap duo, and then had an A-HA moment about how to build hype: send these two dudes to North Korea to make a music video. The Washington Post reported on this story earlier this month, when they had just reached their Kickstarter goal and Peso and Pacman went to apply for U.S. passports.
I guess North Korea is the new…. wait, why do they have to go to North Korea? Oh right, cause Rick Rubin 2.0′s buddy is trying to make a living booking tours there. But what’s with this on their itinerary?
11/24 – Kang Bang Suk Middle School Performance, Pyongyang Metro & Metro Museum, Gun Range (Hen Hunt), Music and Dance Conservatory cultural show -circus/opera, Chicken and Watermelon Dinner (chicken from gun range), Kereoke Party Bus Pyongyang at Night City Bus Tour.
Clearly these guys need a lot of help getting noticed. A lot. Maybe more than their producer and the guy booking their tour. There’s still a few hours left if you’re interested in jumping on the caboose of their publicity trainwreck.
Perhaps this image has come across your social media feeds, if not, please share it now.
Lots of people get leukemia, but some have it harder than others to find bone marrow matches.
The NY Daily News did a story on Leni and a Korean American mother who are in leukemia limbo. Read and share, and spread the word about how simple it can be to improve the odds for minorities and mixed-race people in a very unfair fight.
Leukemia has already touched the GR family. In the memory of Janet Liang, and so many others who fought bravely and worked to educate about the importance of becoming a possible donor, please attend the bone marrow drives or fundraising efforts being organized by friends and family of Leni Hsiao. West Coast events are coming soon.
• Love for Leni Pizza September 1, 2013 – October 1, 2013 Speedy Romeo (376 Classon Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11238) In honor of Leni and her fight against cancer, Speedy’s amazin g owners are donating $5 from every Margherita pizza sold in September to t he #loveforleni fund!!
• Swab for Leni September 14, 2013 at 12:00 pm – 4:00 pm Carriage House Birth (97 North 7th St., Brooklyn, NY 11249) A Fundraiser and Bone Marrow Drive to support LoveforLeni
• #LoveforLeni Bone Marrow Drive September 21, 2013 at 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm Reed Annex – 151 Orchard Street, New York 10002
• Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Light the Night Walk September 25, 2013 at 5:30 pm – 8:30 pm Pier 57, New York, NY http://pages.lightthenight.org/nyc/Manhattn13/LoveforLeni#home
• #LoveforLeni Art Fundraiser October 8, 2013 at 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm Reed Space – 151 Orchard Street, New York 10002
Like LoveforLeni on Facebook to stay updated on events around the country, and share her story not just for her, but for the others struggling to find a match.
Souris Hong-Poretta is the moving-a-million-miles-a-minute mind behind Hustler of Culture, Tiny Iron Fists and is now the proud curator of Outside of the Lines: An Artists’ Coloring Book for Giant Imaginations .
A long-time friend and supporter of GR and its artists, Souris has created something that appeals to the kids we have, the kids we know, and the kid within us. Many of the artists featured in her collection of images for re-imagining will be familiar names to GR fans. Souris gathered together the work of over 100 illustrators, painters, street artists, designers and other creatives to fill the pages of Outside the Lines.
The range of work in the black and white collection runs from crisp graphic design to intimately detailed illustration, showing those with markers and crayons at the ready that the possibilities for visual genius are endless.
GR was able to sneak in a quick interview with Souris about her latest endeavor and its inspiration.
GR: Congratulations on Outside of the Lines. Can you tell GR readers a bit about Hustler of Culture?
SHP: I worked for Tokion Magazine from 1999 to 2002, and when I moved on I was still regularly receiving invites to events. I wanted to share them with friends and blogging was just really starting. My friends at Typepad set me up with an account and I started posting my invites for the public. In the halcyon years, Hustler of Culture was a hot spot for finding out what was what in New York and LA. However, in the past several years, it’s been neglected due to full-time employment and a kid.
GR: How did this project come together?
SHP: Outside the Lines came together rather quickly and easily.
When [my daughter] Lulu was about one and half years old, I observed that she colored more in her coloring book by renowned artists (Moebius, Andy Warhol, Keith Haring), than she did in her generic coloring books, which she had plenty of. I thought it’d be cool for Lulu to color the work of her artist dad as well as our friends’ work, so I wrote artists I knew about contributing artwork for a coloring book. Within weeks, 70 said, yes! I got a literary agent and book deal pretty quickly after I wrote my book proposal and now, two and a half years later, the book goes on sale September 3!
GR: The book features an incredibly diverse group of creators. How did you pull together this line-up?
SHP: Many of the visual artists were friends I made during my Tokion years. The other creative contributors have been friends for nearly two decades, well before they were museum-exhibiting artists, hit game makers, or big time music and film peeps. A few others were friends of friends, including some of yours, and Keith Haring’s contribution via the Keith Haring Foundation was an, “ask and you shall receive” scenario.
I basically asked all my friends and then some of their friends, and the result is a book made up of the people we endeavor to know and surround ourselves with, on all occasions.
GR: There are other specialty coloring books on the market, besides the newsprint books you can buy at the grocery store. What sets your collection apart?
SHP: The line art in Outside the Lines was contributed by creative folks from all disciplines. Many are visual artists, while others are musicians, video game designers and artists, art directors, comic book artists, illustrators, directors, photographers, graphic artists and more. They are all “working” artists and many are masters of their craft.
Outside the Lines contains artwork many artists wanted to color themselves. A few pieces, at first glance, may not appear to be kid-friendly. But all of it is art!
SHP: Outside the Lines is for kids of all ages. Big and small. While Lulu inspired this book, it was made to also remind me to keep it creative! This book is for anyone who wants to color outside the lines of a traditional coloring book.
GR: You’ve worked in publishing, art, marketing and promotion. Was there anything that you weren’t prepared for as you brought this project together?
SHP: I’m married to an artist and have worked with artists for nearly two decades. In my endeavor to have a coloring book with contributions from 119 creative folks, I had no idea how easy or hard it was going to be to organize the artwork. The artists in this book are very in-demand professionals with crazy-busy schedules. Collecting the artwork was at times, like trying to catch chickens, riding on the backs of cats.
GR: How was this project different from your other past endeavors with visual artists?
SHP: The biggest difference is that it wasn’t an assignment and was inspired by my family.
GR: What’s next for Hustler of Culture and Outside the Lines?
SHP: Hustler of Culture will get a much deserved break for an unknown amount of time.
Outside the Lines will continue to live along a happy and organic path… I’m going to let it turn into whatever good it can be, for as many of us as possible. I’m hoping Outside the Lines will help people learn about some of these artists and that some of these artists will find a new audience.
You can get your own copy of Outside the Lines here from the GR webstore or visit us on Sawtelle and pick up a copy in person.
A new challenger is entering the smartphone marketplace. Get ready for North Korea’s Arirang!
The latest innovation from the hermit nation is its very own smartphone. No need to rely on foreign technology (well, except from countries that still export to NK and presumably provided all the parts and possibly the technology) and apps to help you negotiate life in Pyongyang. What are your friends up to on Foursquare? Where’s the nearest coffee sho- oh wait, nevermind, still no internet unless you’re a high ranking government official. No Foursquare badges for you.
Maybe they’ll at least be able to get Candy Crush on their phones and tablets. Because everyone likes Candy Crush. Could be the perfect remedy for chasing the blues away when your husband is wasting away in a gulag. I hope they aren’t just stuck with Angry Birds, cause that’s so five years ago…
According to nknews.org’s story, North Korea has been taking careful notes on what the US government has been doing, but with considerably more transparency about their activities:
“North Koreans now have more opportunities to talk between themselves than ever. In the long run, this is likely to have political consequences. But the North Korean authorities understand the risks and they work hard to cushion the politically negative impact of the ongoing changes. Aside from the censorship and eavesdropping, the North Korean authorities use numerous technical and administrative measures to make it difficult to use the new IT network to spread politically suspicious content.”
This is a really heartwarming story from Minneapolis’ MinnPost about an Asian American community that doesn’t get a lot of attention in the national media. This young Lao-American woman is making good on a promise to her grandma in Laos, and moving back there to make it a better place. She’s going to help combat sex trafficking and empower the women who are most vulnerable to it.
Thouni Seneyakone is joining the ranks of Asian Americans changing the way that Minnesota thinks about its immigrant population. In 2011 Minnesota was represented at the Miss USA pageant by Lao-American Nitaya Panemalaythong.
In such a short time, the first generation of the Lao and Hmong communities in the Twin Cities have come a long way to create opportunities for their children and families. Despite the demise of the American Dream, these two communities are still pushing their young people forward – past the racial tension, income inequality, and prejudice they still encounter.
Read about her story here.
The Playtime Live Music Festival took place last weekend, and I was clever enough to make sure I went to at least one of its two days. My husband (a music festival virgin) and I, drove down to Ulaanbaatar from Darkhan, and camped out for Saturday’s bands. What I learned: The Mongolian music scene is amazing.
This was the twelfth year of the annual music festival, and according to one friend who’s been attending on and off for over a decade, it keeps getting bigger and better. The bands are getting better, the festival organizers are running things with more efficiency, security is more civilized, and less fights break out. What I love is that it’s organized by music lovers; people trying to create opportunity for bands and fans to experience something spectacular.
As you can imagine, Ulaanbaatar doesn’t really show up on most international tour circuits, but Playtime organizers have managed to pull in international bands in recent years. This year’s international bands were Storm, an industrial/hip-hop/metal band from Russia that has played at Playtime previously, and Mono, a shoegaze band (heavy on the glockenspiel) from Japan. The rest of the bands that played (40 in all) were local talents. They ranged from singer songwriters, to cover bands, to indie rock superstars. Each day boasted an eclectic lineup that appealed to a wide range of genres.
The festival takes place on the furthest edge of Ulaanbaatar, at Mongol Shiltgeen’s (Hotel Mongolia) River Beach Resort in Gachuurt, on the banks of the Tuul River. Driving out to Gachuurt you pass by Naran Tuul, the country’s largest open air market, and you wind through the westernmost fringes of the city’s ger (traditional Mongolian nomadic home) districts. The ger districts are a maze of residential hashaas (fenced off lots). Sixty percent of the city’s residents reside in the capital’s ger districts. They lack direct access to the municipal water, sewage, and power networks, but the people there make due, patching in to power lines, and getting water from neighborhood wells. A good number of ger district residents are from Mongolia’s far flung provinces, where hashaas are the norm in the province centerss and smaller towns. Nomads don’t need fences, but when they congregate in permanent settlements, boundaries help make sense of the norms of more urban living.
Gachuurt is less cramped than UB’s ger districts encircling the city center. Many families build “summer homes” there to escape the pollution and traffic, but mostly to connect to nature. Mongolians hold traditional ties to their land dear. The literature, songs and iconic imagery of the nation praise the land, and even UB residents who’ve been city dwellers for decades, long to be connected to those traditions. Gachuurt has no new high rise apartments or business complexes on the horizon, it’s just a sleepy valley of brick and log houses.
The Tuul River is wider, deeper and less visibly polluted here. Trees grow along its banks, biding time before they’re illegally harvested, and small clusters of livestock led by patient herders on foot, drink from its quiet banks. Organic and non-organic farms operate here year round, supplying UB with produce in the late spring through early fall. In the summer, it’s a place of growth and rejuvenation. Mongol Shiltgeen, built as an homage to the sprawling monasteries of old, is a resort hotel popular for weddings, group getaways, and photo ops for tourists continuing on to Terelj National Park. Guests can sleep in “temple” rooms, traditionally sized Mongol gers, or opulent stone gers for $60-$180 a night. It offers the comforts of modern living in a setting that evokes the picturesque Mongolia of old, the one most tourists come here to see. It’s a bit weather beaten and rough around the edges, like most things in Mongolia, which adds to its charming authenticity. This is the setting for one of Mongolia’s most cutting edge, progressive cultural events. Playtime is set in Ulaanbaatar’s closest natural playground, furthest from the steel and cement testaments to its economic boom.
Playtime operates two stages. A mini stage for smaller, less renowned bands and all of the weekend’s DJs (16 in all), and a main stage for the main attractions. The stages were set up cleverly, with Playtime’s audio engineers taking care to keep one from drowning out the other.