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ROCK OF ASIAN: Woods

August 26th, 2009 | 0 comments | Posted by Diana


As you may or may not know, Los Angeles is burning right now. An uncontrolled blaze is tragic and terrible–but sometimes for Angelenos, the L.A. fire seems like an almost necessary purge of all things impure (and oh, there are many), wiping the slate clean for another magical incarnation.

Perhaps it is this routine that turns fire times into days of anomalous calm, our millions of city dwellers just waiting and watching as thick rolls of gray smoke cloud the sunshine over our strip malls, reminding us that we don’t have as much control over tomorrow as we think we do. And perhaps our dirty deeds will just burn up and blow away.

Fascinatingly enough, it is not the hills of the metropolis engulfed in flame at the moment, but the Angeles National Forest (Non-cellphone-tower trees in our midst. For those of you who don’t believe, trust. It exists). Seems almost appropriate, then, that the album we can’t stop spinning is the latest from Woods, called Songs of Shame.


The Woods are based in Brooklyn, but one of the most infectious tracks on the album is an expectant heartbeat-instrumental called “Echo Lake” (a tribute, we hope, to the common name of a strange urban oasis on our city’s east side, not our neighbor in the Sierras), which could easily be the soundtrack to the day’s fire-calm. The rest of the album is a messy, raw compilation of psychedelic lullabies made distinct by both irregular composition and layered teeny vocal tracks–so small, lilting, and ethereal that they remind me of Miyazaki’s Kodama.


But let’s be real here. Um, hello, the album is called Songs of Shame. Isn’t a record, in its own way, simply a vehicle to purge thoughts and emotions (and arguably in this case, guilt/shame)? If it’s possible for an LP to be custom-made for DISGRASIAN, this would be it.

So why don’t you listen here. Then buy here.

And for those of you whose city is burning, temper your calm with Woods *live*: tonight at the Troubadour or tomorrow night at Echo Curio.

[MySpace: Woods]
[Amazon: Woods - 'Songs of Shame']

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Thanks, Maris!

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DISGRASIAN OF THE WEAK! Asian-American Women Most Likely to Attempt Suicide

August 21st, 2009 | 7 comments | Posted by Jen

Asians love being the best. But here’s one superlative we don’t love–Asian-American women are most likely to think about and attempt suicide, more than all other Americans, according to a new University of Washington study.

The study, published in the current issue of the Archives of Suicide Research, found that 15.93 percent of U.S.-born Asian-American women have contemplated suicide in their lifetime, as opposed to 13.5 percent for all Americans, and that suicide attempts among us were also higher than the general population, at 6.29 percent vs. 4.6 percent. It did not attempt to explain why Asian-American women have more suicidal tendencies, however:

It is unclear why Asian-Americans who were born in the United States have higher rates of thinking about and attempting suicide,said Aileen Duldulao, lead researcher of the study.

But if you’re an Asian-American woman who has struggled with depression her whole life like I have, it’s not unclear to you, is it? You don’t need this study, published in 2007, to tell you that we own some of the highest rates of depression and suicide because we’re pushed to achieve. Or this one, published in 2008, to tell you that Asian-Americans are less likely than any other group to seek treatment for mental health disorders. You know this already. You know it in your bones. Personally, not scientifically.

You know it because, growing up, there was no such thing as “depression.” Because feeling blue always had something to do with you “not trying hard enough.” And feeling like you wanted to yell at somebody or start crying in class over nothing was the result of “not having enough self-control.” And wanting to feel better simply involved “doing better.” How could you be unhappy when your father hugged you? (His father beat him with a stick.) How could you feel sad when you had your own bedroom, your own phone, call-waiting for Christ’s sake? (Your mother had her ancestral home stolen from her, pillaged, plundered, sold for scrap. Top that.) What is this “therapy”? What are these “drugs”? If you really think you have problems, could you please keep quiet about them? Better not to advertise your own failure. Best to keep silent, lock up those feelings in shame, and, while you’re at it, lose a few pounds, your moonface is starting to look fat.

I don’t really know how to end this post without sounding like a PSA. I’ve been in therapy for 12 years, and I’ve been medicated for all kinds of things–anxiety, insomnia, depression. At times, I think my family has viewed me as “the crazy one” because I’ve been open with them and the rest of the world about how I’m dealing with my depression. And you know what? I don’t give a fuck. On the subject of mental health, I not only talk, I tend to ramble, because keeping silent and being ashamed of it, that’s really the crazy thing.

[Science Daily: US-born Asian-American Women More Likely To Think About, Attempt Suicide, Study Finds]

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Thoughts on Multitasking

October 28th, 2008 | 0 comments | Posted by Diana


Dear Barack Obama,

This photo gives me a fantastic idea: Can you be both President of the United States and a new running back for my team, the Pittsburgh Steelers (at the same time)? Somehow I feel that this could diminish the shame of fading in the fourth quarter and losing to Eli “Dopey” Manning and the New York VaGiants last weekend, and the shame I feel regarding my country’s greatest public failures of the last decade (off the top of my head I will list the Iraq War, Katrina, Guantanamo Bay, and the seemingly limitless sucess of The Hills) make me really happy.

Let me know what you think!

xoxo,
Diana

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Merci, Jen!

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SPORTS ILLUSTRASIAN: Hardass Asian Parent-Countries

October 16th, 2007 | 0 comments | Posted by Jen

My dear friend Mimi, who is Japanese-American, came to visit from New York this weekend, and we had the pleasure of taking in Game 1 of the ALCS together, when the Red Sox spanked the Indians, 10-3. The subject of Daisuke “Sir Dice-A-Lot” Matsuzaka came up, and Mimi told me that her mother, a delightful woman but a Hardass Asian Parent nevertheless–who was disappointed when Mimi didn’t get into Harvard years ago and had to settle for…gasp!…Yale–was “ashamed” of Dice-K and his lackluster season.

ME: Does your mom know Dice-K?

MIMI: No.

ME: Does your mom even watch baseball?

MIMI: (laughing) No!

I can only imagine how Mimi’s mother feels today, after Dice-K blew Game 3 last night, throwing only 4 2/3 innings and giving up 4 runs. The final score was 4-2, Indians. All of Japan, in fact, is probably feeling the shame of Dice-K’s failure, as evidenced by this AFP story, “Boston’s Matsuzaka disappoints fans in Japan”:

“Matsuzaka retreated to the bench like a boxer who was battered and had to throw in the towel,” the [Mainichi Shimbun] said.

“He threw a total of 101 pitches. Only three Indian batters attempted to hit his first pitch. They waited patiently for Matsuzaka to implode,” the Asahi Shimbun said.

Jeez. It’s like having a whole country of Hardass Asian Parents watching and, more importantly, disapproving of your every move. Who wouldn’t cave under this kind of pressure?

And it’s probably safe to say that there’s no one who feels more ashamed of Dice-K right now than Dice-K. Sure, the Sox paid $103 mil to get him over here, and finishing the regular season 15-12 with a 4.40 ERA is nothing to write home about. But he’s in a totally different league this year (li-trally and metaphorically), he’s pitched more games than he did with the Seibu Lions, and his arm is just plain worn out. Plus he plays in Boston, which has its own Shame Microscope, reserved especially for Red Sox players who underperform (J.D. Drew, anyone?) to go under.

Dice-K’s finished for the season. I suspect that he will return next year with his full arsenal of pitches (rumors are that he is capable of 8 or 9 different ones) and rock people’s shit. For now, Japan and Boston…take a fucking chill pill. And the Red Sox organization? My armchair managerial advice is to keep any and all sharp objects away from the kid.

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Sometimes Shame Is a Good Thing

July 19th, 2007 | 0 comments | Posted by Jen

When I was in a memoir class in grad school, and we were reading Maxine Hong Kingston, my professor said during lecture, “Jews have their guilt, and the Chinese have their shame.” This wasn’t a new idea, by any stretch, but there was something about hearing it out loud, in an academic setting, from a shriveled, pedantic know-it-all, that jolted me from my note-taking and made me feel…ashamed.

Ashamed of shame? That could only mean one thing–I’m Asian!

Shame defines Asian cultures. It accounts for the alarming suicide rate among our young women (the highest of any group), the phobia surrounding mental health issues, and the persistence of domestic violence in Asian communities around the world.

That said, sometimes shame can be a good thing. What?!? I know, crazy, right? But take this person for example:

“Should I have another sip no skip it, in the back of the ride and bust with the whippit.”

It was recently reported that Lindsay All-Time-Lohan was busting with the whippits, i.e. nitrous oxide, during rehab. Dude, Lindsay. Even when I was wearing fur pants and glitter on my face during my totally shameful “rave phase”–promise to never speak of this again, dear DISGRASIAN readers–and consuming all kinds of “fun stuff,” I would never ever never touch that stupefying garbaggio.

Your problem Linds, is you have no shame. But my problem is, I have an excess of shame. What can we do about this inequality?

A SHAMEXCHANGE program!

Think about it. It could be huge.

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