Monday, July 30, 2012

Documentary Nuclear Savage: The Islands of Secret Project 4.1, August 5, and 2012 Shadow Project remembering Hiroshima.



The Melwood Screening Room in Oakland (map) will show the 2011 documentary Nuclear Savage: The Islands of Secret Project 4.1M on Sunday, August 5, at 6:00 pm. A Huffington Post review summarizes:
Nuclear Savage is the story of what we did to the Marshall Islanders throughout the Cold War with our nuclear testing program. Not only did we expose many thousands of them to ghastly -- often lethal -- levels of radiation with 67 nuclear blasts, with glaring evidence that at least some of the exposure was intentional, done for the purpose of studying the effects of radiation on human guinea pigs; not only did we wreck the Marshall Islanders' way of life and pristine paradise, creating a nation of internal refugees confined to a Western-style slum on the island of Ebeye; not only did we cower, as a nation, from any real responsibility for what our fallout did to these people, settling our genocidal debt to them with $150 million "for all claims, past, present and future"; but also, throughout our dealing with them as nuclear conquistadors, we displayed a racism so profound, so cold-blooded, its exposure must forever shatter the myth of American exceptionalism.
The screening, says the website,
will be preceded by shadow-making and followed by live exchange via skype with peace activists from Kobe, Japan.
One of the co-sponsors of the evening is the local Remembering Hiroshima Pittsburgh group, which will organize shadow-making around the city leading up to the August 6th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. Not shadow puppets, as I first read it, but chalk outlines to represent the casualties of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings and the effect a nuclear blast has on the people it instantly vaporizes.


Hamilton, ON, 2011, via The Hamilton Spectator.

In previous autumns (2009, 2011) Pittsburgh has held a lot of other pacifist events to mark the bombings, although no details are out yet about 2012 (summers are very slow at local universities). These programs are small but very encouraging, as the US does not currently have a significant peace movement, or an appetite for honest reflection about its fascination with war. More troubling is how unpopular and even dangerous it is to speak out against war, current militaristic attitudes, or banal militarism in "for the troops" marketing and public rhetoric that honor those who continue to shape the world with weapons.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

McKeesport International Village Festival, August 14 - 16th.



The 53rd annual McKeesport International Village Festival will take place from August 14th through 16th, in the city slightly southeast of Pittsburgh. The festival's Facebook page has some information about what to expect:
Did you know that this year's festival is poised to be better than ever? It's true! Festival organizers are in the process of enhancing the annual three day ethnic celebration so that it will reflect more of its cultural roots. Games, slides and other carnival-type attractions are being downplayed this year. In addition, those in attendance will now have access to a brand new series of educational demonstrations that focus on heritage and traditions of the different nationalities. This is definitely one summer event that you and your family won't want to miss.
And the festival's website says:
Each year, you’ll find more than a dozen booths selling freshly-made ethnic foods from around the world, continuous live entertainment, live music for dancing, crafts, community information and games. New this year are short educational sessions about world cultures, presented by the same organizations whose food booths—each representing a different nationality or culture—have been a Pittsburgh-area tradition for more than a half-century.

International Village is entirely run by volunteers, including many of the ethnic churches, temples and social organizations in the McKeesport region. It annually draws more than 20,000 people to McKeesport’s historic Renziehausen Park, home to many other attractions, including an extensive walking/fitness trail, a heritage museum and Pennsylvania’s second-largest rose garden.
Admission is $2, not including food, and the festival will be held at Renzie Park (map). Several Pittsburgh buses go to McKeesport (60, 61C, P76, for example), but it's still a hike from the bus stops to the park.

Strangely, the festival's poster shows a North Korean flag.



Though Korean isn't listed among the participating cultures on the festival's website, presumably all of the Koreans visiting will be from South Korea. It would be interesting to show a little about the culture of North Korea, but the poster would be more representative of the region's Koreans if it depicted the southern flag. While Korean visitors next month probably won't pitch a fit like that seen a few days ago at the Olympics over the wrong Korean flag, it's a careless mistake that will, at least, make people scratch their heads. I'm no graphic designer, but here's a quick fix that's on the right track:

3D-origami class at Carnegie Library Oakland, August 7.

The Carnegie Library of Oakland will host a 3D origami class on August 7th, as a Hands-on Workshop.
Join us for HOW, a series of hands-on workshops for adults and teens. Learn from skilled craftspeople. Dig in and try things out in a creative, supportive environment. Join us for one or all of these free programs. Materials provided.

Sasha’s unique 3D origami arts are far more ornate than traditional origami pieces and make great looking decorations.
Registration is required, and you can do so on the event's listing at the library website. That library has origami classes periodically, and will have more on Saturday, August 18th: a beginners' class at noon, an advanced class at 1:30, and a kids' class at 4:30. Browse the CLP events page for details on these and other upcoming activities.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Kimchi class at Dasonii Korean Bistro, July 29th.

The meetup.com Korean Language Study Group will meet on Sunday at Dasonii Korean Bistro in Robinson Township (map) for another Korean cooking class, this time making kimchi.
Kimchi is one of most famous Korean traditional food and we'll learn how to prepare and make kimchi during the class this day.
. . .
The cost of this class is $20 and it includes the class, 1/2 gallon Kimchi and Kimchi Chigae lunch.
There is limited space available---earlier there was a waiting list, and now there is one spot open---and you'll need to RSVP on the meetup.com page. Past events included mandu (dumplings) and bibimbap, although the "cooking" is a bit of a misnomer, as it's more of an introduction to and preparation of certain Korean dishes. Nonetheless it's a great start-up social club in Pittsburgh, and the owners of Dasonii have been generous enough to open their restaurant on Sundays to accommodate it.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Gwangju students visit Pittsburgh.


Via the GPLC GNUE Summer Institute Facebook page.

Twenty students from the Gwangju National University of Education are currently in Pittsburgh as part of a training and cultural-immersion program assisted by the Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council. As the Gwangju Ilbo reported on Tuesday (copied entirely from a university press release):
광주교육대학교(총장 박남기)의 는 초등학교 예비교사 80명이 여름방학을 이용해 미국 캘리포니아와 뉴욕에 소재한 대학교, 그리고 말레이시아와 베트남 교육대학교에서 약 1개월 동안 세계문화와 학교교육, 그리고 영어연수 프로그램에 참여한다.

지난 2009년 겨울방학부터 광주교대와 미국의 대학교가 함께 마련한 미국문화와 학교교육, 영어연수 프로그램은 8월 7일까지 약 1개월 동안 미국 캘리포니아주립대학교와 롱아일랜드대학교, 그리고 피츠버그 언어교육기관에서 진행된다.
To summarize, 80 elementary education students from Gwangju National University of Education are spending their summer breaks participating in month-long training programs in California and New York, and in education universities in Malaysia and Vietnam, to learn about world culture, methodology, and to undergo English-language training. The press release, titled "초등학교 예비교사 글로벌시대 준비한다" (Elementary education teachers preparing for global era") and not directly linkable, continues:
또한 미국 피츠버그 언어교육기관에서는 오전 영어교과 수업을 비롯해 학교 기숙사가 아닌 홈스테이를 통한 미국사회의 다양한 직업세계와 세계 각국의 문화를 직접 체험하게 된다.
If you can read Korean and if you can view Hansoft Word Processor files---two big ifs---you can look through the reports written by previous' years' participants.


Thank you, Geun-ae.

Overseas training programs are a regular part of university education programs in South Korea, and veteran English teachers routinely undergo intensive training programs both in and out of the country. It's just not every day that they come to Pittsburgh. And it's not every year that they can root for the Pirates. I'd like to see the mainstream media pay attention to this and other educational and cultural exchanges that occur in the city, for this is really how relationships across borders are built. But I guess if it doesn't have UPMC, PNC, or Dollar Bank sponsorship in this town, it doesn't exist.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Vietnamese restaurant "Miss Saigon88 Cafe" coming to Oakland.



Pittsburgh is getting a new Vietnamese restaurant, on 256 N. Craig St. in North Oakland (map). The area a few blocks south, in and around the University of Pittsburgh, already has a ton of Asian fast food places, but nothing Vietnamese. This location is the little sister of Saigon 88, a pan-Asian restaurant in the South Hills (menu) that will operate the new cafe.

Based on the awning, it looks to have a lot of bases covered with "Pho Noodles Soup & Sushi Bar * Vietnamese * Japanese * Chinese * Thai". If it's a place to get a decent Vietnamese hoagie in the area, I just might have to rent the 2nd floor apartment.


The exterior on July 19th.

Signs first went up a few weeks ago, but there is still a good deal of work to be done in the interior of what used to be a popular bar and sandwich place that closed last year. The inside is still under construction, but I estimate it should be ready for the fall term.

"Sullivan and Son", bicultural Ko-Am sitcom set in Pittsburgh, premiers tonight.


Two Korean flags, a Steeler's football, and a WDVE sticker. Via SullivanandSonTBS on Youtube.

Most television shows are at best just placeholders for advertisements, but given the focus of this site it's probably worth mentioning that "Sullivan and Son" premiers tonight at 10 pm on TBS. It's a sitcom set in Pittsburgh, starring Korean-American and native Pittsburgher Steve Byrne, with the dad from "Wonder Years" and Korean-American actress Jodi Long as his parents. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette had a preview over the weekend. I won't pretend to be interested in the details, but the last paragraph caught my eye:
"Sullivan & Son" makes a game effort to get regional details right and mostly succeeds with a WDVE sticker on the jukebox, characters clad in Penguins gear and even an accurate Allegheny County Health Department logo in episode two. But the miscues also stand out, like when a cop refers to "the 79," inspired, no doubt by Southern Californians' tendency to put "the" before any Interstate number ("the 405," "the 10," etc.).
One way to stay engaged in dull shows and movies is to spot the inaccuracies and anachronisms. One common error, for example, is that pieces set decades ago often slip up and use modern money.


In 2008's 님은먼곳에, set in Vietnam in 1971, he's trying to bribe a driver with a five-dollar bill printed in 2001.

And what made the 2007 show "The Kill Point" tough to watch, other than the plot and the actors, was that nobody had a Pittsburgh accent in a show shot and set in downtown Pittsburgh. A quick look around "Sullivan show's YouTube channel doesn't reveal any authentic accents here, either. It doesn't look terribly interesting or funny, either, but at least it's better than "K-town", the web-only Koreatown version of "Jersey Shore".

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

"One Million Elephants Revisited", reading and disucssion on US bombing of Laos, August 6.



Laos has been in the local papers lately as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made a visit there earlier in the month. Along with Vietnam and Cambodia, Laos is one of the countries pulverized by American bombing in the 1960s and 1970s, and the consequences of the war are of course still visible there. From a July 12 Washington Post write-up, via the Post-Gazette:
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Wednesday became the first high-ranking U.S. official to visit Laos since the Vietnam War era, when the United States dropped some 260 million cluster bombs across the countryside in a nine-year campaign to crush North Vietnamese supply lines and bases.

Ms. Clinton met with Laotian Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong and other officials for talks that centered mostly on addressing that war's lingering effects -- including a sense of mutual estrangement -- and then toured a small museum devoted to its human toll.

Ms. Clinton walked through an exhibit of dangling cluster bombs and crude wooden artificial legs, made by villagers whose limbs had been blown off by unexploded ordnance -- the legacy of a war that Ms. Clinton herself had protested as a college student in the 1960s.

Then she met Phongsavath Souliyat, who had been blinded by and lost both hands to a cluster bomb. He told her he hoped that governments would ban the weapon.

"We have to do more," Ms. Clinton responded. "That's one of the reasons I wanted to come here today, so that we can tell more people about the work that we should be doing together."
As I wrote in November 2011, Americans are generally ignorant of the scale of destruction of the Vietnam War, have tended to manipulate its narrative to make the United States appear the greatest victim rather than the aggressor, and have calculated the war's devastation only in terms of its own losses. There are private groups doing more, though, and attempting to atone for our violence, such as Room to Read and Pittsburgh's Friends of Danang.

With Laos in the news again, and with the legacy of the United States' involvement there perhaps in the public's mind, the No Name Players present "One Million Elephants Revisited" on August 6th at the University of Pittsburgh's Cathedral of Learning. The title refers to both the country's historical name of the kingdom (Lan Xang, "Million Elephants") and the original one-man production in Pittsburgh last April. Global Solutions Pittsburgh has a write-up:
In late 2011, local writer Robert Isenberg traveled to Laos to research a book on the Secret War, a nine-year bombing campaign that devastated this tropical nation. In April 2012, Isenberg presented his solo performance, One Million Elephants, at Grey Box Theatre, produced by theatrical mavens No Name Players.

Now the company joins forces with Global Solutions Pittsburgh to present a one-night event that includes readings from Isenberg’s book manuscript, a panel discussion about unexploded cluster munitions (UXO), and a gallery of photographs taken in Laos.

This presentation will take place on Monday, August 6th, 2012, in the Studio Theatre, in the basement of the Cathedral of Learning. The show begins 8 PM, tickets are $10 in advance or $15 at the door.

Ticket proceeds benefit No Name Players and Global Solutions Pittsburgh. Book and art sales benefit Legacies of War, an organization that helps educate Americans about Laos.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

"Unknown Japan" film festival in Philadelphia this August, September.


1967's Love for a Fool (Chijin no Ai) runs on August 15.

Unknown Japan IV opens August 8th in Philadelphia and runs each Wednesday evening through September 12th at The Bellefield and PhilaMOCA. Unknown Japan is
a free biannual series (winter + summer) of rare Japanese films presented at various venues throughout the city of Philadelphia. All selected films have never received a VHS/DVD/VOD release outside of their country of origin (with the occasional exception of a film that may have been released in some form in a country other than the U.S., odds are you'll never have heard of it regardless).

All screenings include free popcorn courtesy of the JASGP as well as brief pre-screening introductions by curator Eric Bresler.
Check the website for details. There's a movie from almost every decade from the fifties through the aughts, including Japan's first color film, a nearly unwatchable movie from J-pop group Morning Masume, and
an oddball and often uncomfortable comedy featuring a straight-laced factoryman who is thrust into the swinging '60s courtesy of a young lover with a penchant for dancing and romancing.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Smoothies Korea buys parent company Smoothie King, soon coming to PA.


Pop-up on the Smoothie Korea website today, leading to this press release.

American reporting on Asia tends to extremes and hyperbole. The Wall Street Journal's Deal Journal blog gets in on it today, writing about "South Korea's next cultural wave", the smoothie:

Masashi Action Machine in Pittsburgh this August.


Via the Masashi Action Machine website.

Japan's Masashi Action Machine will perform in Pittsburgh on August 1, 2, and 4 as part of the Jazz Dance World Congress held at Point Park University from August 1 - 5. The JDWC says of the Nagoya-based company:
Their distinctive style of jazz dance is based on the male’s rhythmic gymnastics which Mishiro has trained intensively before he started dancing. Sakamoto and Mishiro studied jazz dance under Frank Hatchett in New York since 1983 and has developed original jazz dance pieces which carry out the spirit of traditional Japan. With thrilling acrobatics and the beauty of Japanese culture, their pieces keep the mind of `wakon-yosai`, which means `the fusion of Japanese spirit and the Western abilities`.

Post-Gazette visits Sumi's Cakery, Squirrel Hill's Korean bakery.


Green tea (macha) cupcakes, via the Sumi's Cakery Facebook page.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette visited Sumi's Cakery (Facebook page), a Korean bakery on Squirrel Hill's Murray Avenue. The sweets at Sumi's are rather different than what American palates are used to, and taste lighter and less sweet than the heavy butter cream and whipped icing most commonly seen. Writes Jessica Suss:
Korean-style baked goods are very different from their American or French counterparts. Typically they are topped with a simple whipped cream frosting that is only very lightly sweetened. Pastries themselves are rarely very sweet and most Korean bakeries offer at least one savory option, as well.
That's not necessarily true of Korean bakeries in South Korea, where the ubiquitous chains like Paris Baguette and Tous Les Jours are known for heavily-sugared bread and brightly-colored cakes. With more Koreans traveling abroad, though, and more expatriates residing in Korea, these chains and the larger grocery stores are slowly expanding their offerings. Nonetheless Asian-style sweets can be off-putting for Americans used to very sweet . . . um, sweets.

I briefly previewed Sumi's in March, as the fourth Korean business in those three blocks of Squirrel Hill. The Pittsburgh City Paper visited a month later.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Some looks at the proposed Korean Heritage Room at Pitt.

As I wrote in May, the Korean Heritage Room Committee is currently raising funds to turn room 304 into another of the famed "nationality rooms" at the University of Pittsburgh's Cathedral of Learning. (Actually, fundraising has been underway since early 2008). A crude scan of a pamphlet back in May showed a rendering of how the interior of the 피츠버그대학교 한국실 may look, but there are some better, and slightly different, pictures online via consultants Arumjigi (아름지기) and the Korean Heritage Committee website. From the latter:





A pamphlet from 2009 by 내촌목공소 (.pdf) has more details about dimensions and building materials of the design by architect Minah Lee.


via 내촌목공소 (Naechon Carpenter's Workshop).