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Meet The First Asian American Gold Medalist, 91 Year-Old Sammy Lee

July 20th, 2012 | 8 comments | Posted by Jen

The last time the Olympics were in London in 1948 was also the first time an Asian American won a gold medal in the Games. That distinction belongs to 91 year-old Dr. Samuel “Sammy” Lee, who was born in Fresno, CA and is of Korean descent.

From Time Lightbox via Wired:

Dr. Samuel “Sammy” Lee, 91, was the first Asian-American to win an Olympic gold Continue reading Meet The First Asian American Gold Medalist, 91 Year-Old Sammy Lee

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For Better Or Worse, “K-Town” The Reality Show Is Finally Here

July 11th, 2012 | 4 comments | Posted by Jen

After two years of hype surrounding every aspect of the so-called “Asian Jersey Shore,” K-Town premiered today on YouTube. The reality show was so thoroughly dissected before it ever saw the light of day–Is this good or bad for Asians? Does it promote or break down stereotypes? Is this something to be ashamed of or to celebrate?–the 12-minute pilot is, inevitably, something of a letdown. It’s not quite the trainwreck it was originally touted to be, and without something to really rubberneck in the pilot, the whole thing feels a little bland, actually. The guys and girls kind of blend one into another, a cheesy, homogeneous mix of muscles and eyelash extensions. The teaser for the rest of the season doesn’t give you much to hang onto either: They drink, party, have a few fakish conflicts, rinse and repeat.

Let’s hope the next ep has more to gawk at, or, at least, offers clearer stakes–how very fuddy-duddy of me to want them, I know–because a show like this that once promised to be new and “groundbreaking” could get really old, fast.

[YouTube: K-Town Episode 1]
[The Leaked K-Town Sizzle Reel: Mystery Revealed]

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David Choe Inspiring A Generation Of Asian Kids To Ditch Pre-Med For Art

February 3rd, 2012 | 0 comments | Posted by Jen

Hardass Asian Parents, take note.

You can be an artist, and still rule at the maths. That’s true, at least, in the case of Korean American graffiti artist David Choe, who painted the walls of Facebook’s first corporate headquarters back in 2005. Instead of taking cash for his work, Choe chose to be paid in Facebook stock, even though he thought Facebook was “ridiculous and pointless” at the time. (This was his right brain talking. His left brain, meanwhile, was ignoring the right brain as it crunched the numbers.) As Facebook prepares to go public at a valuation between $75 and $100 billion, Choe’s stock will reportedly be worth $200 million.

Now that Choe no longer has to rely on art to pay the bills, he’s free to pursue his real dream…of becoming a doctor!

[NYT: From Founders to Decorators, Facebook Riches]

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Forever 21 Tells Girls That Math Is Hard

September 12th, 2011 | 3 comments | Posted by Jen

Just in time for back-to-school shopping, Forever 21 has issued this “Allergic to Algebra” tee! It’s the new “Math Class is Tough” Barbie, only twenty years later! (Progress? What progress?)

But oh the mixed messages Forever 21 is putting out with their “Graphic Tees.” Here are a few of their other offerings:

Continue reading Forever 21 Tells Girls That Math Is Hard

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BABEWATCH: The Walking Dead‘s Glenn, aka The Last Asian Man Standing In The Zombie-pocalypse

November 9th, 2010 | 6 comments | Posted by Jen


Name: Glenn

Age: Twenty-something

Hails from: Atlanta

Occupation: Pizza delivery boy (pre-Zombie-pocalypse)

This is how deep in I get with zombie stories: during the cold open of episode 2 of The Walking Dead, which aired Sunday, when the sheriff’s deputy was trapped in the tank, counting how many bullets he had in his 9mm clip, I was thinking to myself, “Note to self: acquire better gun skills in order to increase chances of surviving the zombie-pocalypse. Also: acquire more canned goods,” because, you know, five minutes into a TV show about undead flesh-eating creatures, I’m thinking, OF COURSE THIS SHIT IS REAL.

So.

By my own apocalogic, Glenn–played by actor Steven Yeun–is a catch. He presumably Continue reading BABEWATCH: The Walking Dead‘s Glenn, aka The Last Asian Man Standing In The Zombie-pocalypse

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BABEWATCH: Phil Yu, aka Angry Asian Man

November 2nd, 2010 | 11 comments | Posted by Jen

Name: Phil Yu, aka Angry Asian Man

Age: 32

Hails from: NoCal

Occupation: Blogger, Community Leader, Full-Time Mensch

Why He’s a Babe: Our friend Phil is on the cover of this month’s KoreAm Journal lookin’ hella hawt. His scruffy good looks aside, however, it’s what Phil reveals in the the accompanying Q & A–conducted by our other pal, Jeff Yang, in what is probably Phil’s most candid interview to date–that explains why everyone crushes on Angry Asian Man. Dude’s a total rock star–we’ve spoken at packed conferences where people line up just to get a whiff of his Angry Asian Man Essence–yet he couldn’t be more humble, self-effacing, and dedicated to his readers, his community, and the things he writes about.

But the KoreAm interview also reveals some bad news for all of us AAM groupies: Continue reading BABEWATCH: Phil Yu, aka Angry Asian Man

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How To Be A Badass Mothershucker

October 6th, 2010 | 7 comments | Posted by Jen

There are certain skills in life that I believe all intelligent humans should have. Like how to drive a stick (check). Or how to surf (someday). One such skill particularly prized by yours truly is how to shuck an oyster (check). Oysters are my favorite food and they should be yours too, because they’re full of things that are good for and to you, namely, minerals, saltwater and sex.

Leave it to the cool kids behind NY/LA boutique Opening Ceremony–they’re Asian, naturally–and Momofuku‘s David Chang to present an easy and artful how-to:

Now, all you need to know is how to open a bottle of champagne (check)–which under no circumstances should be relegated to “a man’s job”–and you’re on your way to a perfect evening.

[Opening Ceremony]

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Wonder Woman Finally Gets A Pair Of Pants

June 30th, 2010 | 9 comments | Posted by Jen

Holy shit. Wonder Woman finally owns a pair of pants.

And not just any old pair of pants, but crimefighting pants. (Leggings, technically, with motorcycle boots attached.) After 69 years, Wonder Woman’s getting a sartorial makeover for her 600th issue–and also, apparently, a re-imagining of her origin story. And while it’s about time the feminist icon, who once graced the cover of Ms. magazine, got herself a pair of pants, it’s kinda weird to see her in pants, you know? It’s like seeing Lady Gaga in pants. It’s like seeing the Queen of England in pants. It’s like you forgot pants existed in her Amazonian universe. It’s as though they were as invisible as her airplane.

And now that she’s finally be-panted, of course, you wonder how she ever lived without pants. Did she ever get cold in that strapless leotard thingy? (Answer: Of course not, she’s Wonder Woman.) Did she ever put on that strapless leotard thingy and go, Shit, I forgot to get a bikini wax? (Answer: Hmmmm. Hadn’t thought about that before.) Because, look, even Superman had a beard once. It’s like, now that she’s got pants, this light has been shone on her decades of pantlessness, and you’re a little outraged she’s never worn pants, mostly because you’re a little shocked you never stopped to think about the fact that she’s never worn pants, and you’re more than a little shocked that it’s that easy to be brainwashed into thinking that something as basic as pants don’t exist, even while you’re kinda missing her red boots and her star spangled hot pants–which are really not pants, btw–on that wildly impractical strapless leotard thingy.

[Deep breath.]

Anyway, the man responsible for Wonder Woman’s costume redesign is renowned comic book artist and DC Comics Co-Publisher, Jim Lee. If you’re not familiar with Lee’s bio, as I wasn’t, it’s pretty interesting stuff. Born in Seoul but raised in St. Louis, Lee always had Continue reading Wonder Woman Finally Gets A Pair Of Pants

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BABEWATCH: Forever 21′s Linda and Esther Chang

April 6th, 2010 | 14 comments | Posted by Jen

Names: Linda Chang and Esther Chang

Ages: 28 and 23

Occupations: Forever 21′s marketing and visuals department heads, respectively

Linda and Esther Chang are the daughters of Don and Jin Sook Chang, the Korean American founders of one of our favorite places on Earth, Forever 21. (Where else can you get a cute, fashion-forward $12 dress, we ask you? A $12 dress!) Like the company’s wares, the Chang sisters are young, fresh, and adorbs. They were recently profiled by the LA Times’ Booth Moore, where we learned the following:

  • They’re best friends.
  • They’re both Ivy League-educated.
  • They work for the family business, which opened its first store in 1984 and, by the end of that year, had grown its sales from $35,000 to $700,000.
  • They go to church with their parents on Sunday.

We tend to hate on people like this–i.e. people who please their Hardass Asian Parents all the time rather than disappoint–but with the Chang sisters, we just can’t. Their devotion to their family and the family business is just so earnest (older sis Linda says things like, “I love it when people come out of our stores being so happy”). And the girls themselves are just too cute.

Then, of course, it all goes back to the fact that the Chang sisters represent the $12 dress. The $12 dress!

[LA Times: Meet Forever 21’s stylish sisters]

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AMAZIAN OF THE WEEK! LPGA Tour Champion Michelle Wie

November 16th, 2009 | 5 comments | Posted by Jen

Name: Michelle Wie58925190

Age: 20

Occupation: Student and pro golfer

After becoming the youngest player to qualify for an LPGA tour event at age 12 and turning pro at 16, only to have her career declared “over” by age 18, Michelle Wie’s finally won her first LPGA tour title. Wieeeeeeeeeee!

We’ve been tough on Michelle Wie in the past, particularly when she became better known for her bratty tournament shenanigans than her game, but her win this weekend at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational suggests that the former child prodigy who always wanted to compete with men may have grown up and sacked up over the last few years. Certainly what Wie had to say after her win can be taken as a good sign:

“I think that hopefully life will be a lot better (after this), but I still have a lot of work to do.”

“I still have a lot of work to do”…that’s music to our Hardass Asian Ears!

[AP: At long last, Michelle Wie gets 1st LPGA Tour win]

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BABEWATCH: Sonja Sohn “reWIRED”

November 10th, 2009 | 4 comments | Posted by Jen

Name: Sonja Sohn sonjasohn

Hails from: Virginia

Occupation: Actress and activist

Why She’s a Babe: As Detective Kima Greggs on the best television show of all time, The Wire, Sonja proved that she could drink, smoke, fuck, and fuck up her relationships right alongside the big boys. And now the Blasian former slam poet–who goes by her Korean American mother’s maiden name because her father didn’t approve of her career choice–is turning her experiences from the show and from filming in the bleakest neighborhoods of Baltimore into a nonprofit called “reWIRED For Change,” a life-skills, violence prevention, and self-esteem-building program targeting at-risk youth, ages 14-24.  This along with The Wire being taught as a course at Harvard next year makes it almost seem like the show never died, went to TV heaven, and left me canceling HBO, watching all five seasons on DVD over and over like a fiend, and in a state of permanent mourning.

Well, almost.

[Boston Globe: 'The Wire' sparks a connection]

[reWIRED For Change]

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Sam Yoon for Mayor of Boston!

July 8th, 2009 | 0 comments | Posted by Jen


Boston City Councilman Sam Yoon is currently running for mayor. A Democrat who was born in Seoul, moved to the U.S. at 10 months old, and became a citizen at 10 years old, Sam is the first Asian-American to hold elected office in Boston. Bear in mind that Boston is one of America’s oldest cities, almost 379 years old. To be the first Asian-American elected official in the city’s storied 379 year-history is nothing short of amazian.

We sat down recently for a Q & A with Sam about his campaign. We not only learned of his stellar qualifications–Princeton undergrad, Harvard grad, community organizing–we also discovered something completely unexpected about the 39 year-old politician. As they’d say in Boston, Sam is wicked funny.

Over email, we discussed some of DISGRASIAN’s favorite topics: Hardass Asian Parents, math, advanced degrees, hot dogs, and, of course, the Boston Red Sox.

Why did you decide to get into politics?

Because it was the one career choice that would completely befuddle my parents.

When you decided to pursue a career in politics, did your Asian parents try to convince you to go to law school instead? Were they worried you wouldn’t make enough money as a public servant?

After my parents paid for a very expensive college education at Princeton, I became a teacher. After my brother graduated from Yale, he pursued ministry. We were going into the two lowest-paid professions. My parents got used to it.

You taught math in New Jersey public schools after graduating Princeton. Are you good at math? Are you good at math because you’re Asian?

All of the above. I’m a proud Asian math geek.

So studious! So Asian!

How many musical instruments were you forced to play as a child?

Two: piano, then the flute. My immigrant parents didn’t know how much cooler it would have been had they chosen the saxophone. Or trumpet.

We understand your wife Tina has a doctorate in biology from MIT. Do you ever call her Dr. Yoon?

Because she got her graduate degree from MIT and mine’s only from Harvard, of course she makes me call her Dr. Yoon. Truthfully, sometimes we get wedding invitations addressed to “Mr. and Dr. Yoon.” Which isn’t humiliating at all. Really.

When people say, “An Asian-American mayor of Boston? Really? I never really pictured that,” what do you say?

I don’t blame you. Look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_mayors_of_Boston

But then try scrolling down this list: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Us_presidents

Sam finds another Asian at the St. Patty’s Day parade! w00t!

What issues will you focus on as mayor of Boston?

Check out my website samyoon.com and while you’re there please donate $500.

The Bruins went to the Conference Semis this year. The Celts won the NBA Finals in 2008. The Sox won the World Series in 2007 and 2004. And the Pats have won three Super Bowls this decade. What’s in the water in Boston these days that’s making its sports franchises so great?

Steroids, obviously. I’m looking into whether or not this is legal.

If you could play any position on the Red Sox team, what would it be?

Pitcher, because I’m sure any Korean could be at least as good as the three Japanese pitchers we have already. Not that there’s any rivalry between Koreans and Japanese or anything.

If you were a Red Sox player, what would be your at-bat song?

“Mr. Roboto” by Styx.

How fast is your fastball?

Faster than Dice-K’s these days. [Ouch! But true. Sigh.--Ed.]

What’s your favorite food at Fenway?

Truth be told, I’m a huge hot dog fan; the Monster Dogs are good.

Hypothetical scenario: You have the choice of saving either a Yankee player or your political opponent from a burning house. What do you do?

Save my political opponent, because I want to beat him.

Reaching new Orient Heights, indeed!

[Sam Yoon for Mayor]

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