Saturday, April 14, 2012

Stats on Asians seeking permanent residency in Pennsylvania, 2011.

Via Nullspace comes a set of links from the Department of Homeland Security about the numbers of, and certain trends among, internationals seeking permanent residency in the United States. Incoming residents from Asia and Oceana to the Pittsburgh region has gone up from 2006 to 2011, Nullspace writes, culminating with 1,826 last year. In 2011 there were 9,197 to the Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington area, according to the DHS's Supplemental Table 3.

Looking at Pennsylvania as a whole in 2011, which had 12,071 from Asia based on Supplemental Table 1:
* 159 from Cambodia
* 2,247 from China
* 120 from Japan
* 13 from Laos
* 48 from Malaysia
* 584 from Philippines
* 481 from South Korea
* 94 from Taiwan
* 190 from Thailand
* 940 from Vietnam

Monday, April 9, 2012

Pittsburgh Sakura Festival, April 29.

The First Annual Pittsburgh Sakura Festival will be held April 29 at Pittsburgh's North Park. A short press release published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Saturday reads:
The Sakura Project, which has been planting cherry trees in North Park for three years, will plant more trees and hold a Cherry Blossom Festival from 3 to 5 p.m. April 29 next to the boat house in North Park.

Activities will include folk dancing, musical performances, kite flying, a tea ceremony, a raffle and an appearance by Takumi Kato, a world champion taiko drummer from Japan.
The Pittsburgh Sakura Project has been planting cherry blossom trees in North Park for several years.

The trees have been planted near the boat house, though I think they would look nicer planted closer to the water. The trees are still quite small, but have yielded some blossoms already.

A rainy day on March 24, 2012.

This festival won't coincide with a viewing party, as blossoms in Pittsburgh---like the ones at larger festivals in Washington D.C. and Philadelphia---have come and gone thanks to an atypically warm March. The Pittsburgh Sakura Project plants trees twice a year, spring and fall, so check their website for details and how to get involved.
Students deal with the University of Pittsburgh bomb threats in different ways:
Annmarie Grant, also an engineering major, said that she hasn’t been able to focus on her schoolwork with all the threats.

“It feels like everything is so surreal at this point. We aren’t focused on homework,” Grant said. “I colored all day and watched Korean television.”
lol wut?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Japanese film Anpo: Art x War at Pittsburgh's Carnegie Museum of Art, April 12.

The Japanese documetary Anpo: Art x War will be showing April 12 at the Frick Fine Arts Building Carnegie Museum of Art in Oakland. (The location was changed on April 9th due to repeated bomb threats to the Frick Fine Arts Building and other locations on campus.) The University of Pittsburgh Center of International Studies writes:
The 1951 US-Japan Mutual Security Treaty (ANPO) gave the U.S. the right to maintain armed forces on Japan’s soil. This sparked a protest movement in 1960 in which millions of Japanese citizens took to the streets. The film uses the work of Japanese artists, photographers, and filmmakers to guide the viewer through the opposition to the government response and the presence of U.S. military in Japan.
The director, Linda Hoaglund, is a filmmaker, raised in rural Japan by American missionaries.

Round table discussion with the audience to follow, with speakers Linda Hoaglund, Geralyn Huxley (Curator of Film and Video, The Andy Warhol Museum), and Charles Exley (Assistant Professor, East Asian Languages and Literatures).

Free lecture on "traditional" "Korean" fusion music, April 13.

The University of Pittsburgh Department of Music presents a lecture by R. Anderson Sutton "on Fusion Music and Contemporary Korean Cultural Identity". An excerpt from the abstract:
The notion of cultural purity is demonstrably a myth, as any careful historical analysis of cultural expression anywhere in the world can reveal multiple origins, blends, syncretisms, hybridities that are the inevitable result of human contact. Yet in Korea, as in many countries around the globe, some forms of cultural expression have come to be recognized as “pure” or “authentic” indigenous forms, often celebrated in official discourse as invaluable assets, to be nurtured and preserved against the perceived onslaught of foreign mixture and “pollution.” Korean official discourse on the arts and government-supported cultural policy in Korea has strongly favored the forms with the least evident influence from other countries and cultures, but the vast majority of Korean people today and in the recent past have felt remarkably little appreciation for many of these forms. While most would not deny that these forms are indeed part of their cultural heritage as Koreans and are clearly and unambiguously identifiable as “Korean arts,” they also feel culturally “estranged” from them. That they enjoy other forms of music in almost all contexts presents us with a challenge as we try to come to terms with Korean notions of identity and music. Korean fusion music, a broad and somewhat controversial category of diverse musical practices, all of which involve at least some perceivable cultural mix between unambiguously Korean elements and other elements with foreign origins that are readily apparent, is becoming an increasingly important response to the unsettled cultural terrain on which musicians find themselves in contemporary Korea. This paper considers examples of Korean fusion music, both mainstream and marginal, in an attempt to illuminate aspects of contemporary Korean cultural identity and its discourses in music.
These discussions on "pure" Korean---and "pure" anything, really---are not new among people who pay attention to contemporary South Korean culture, but it's nonetheless nice to see the discussion happening close to home, too. The lecture is free and will be held on April 13, 4:00 pm, in room 132 of the University of Pittsburgh Music Building.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Dangdut Cowboys and their Indonesian pop at Shadow Lounge, April 6.


The University of Pittsburgh Asian Studies Center tells us Pittsburgh group Dangdut Cowboys will be playing East Liberty's Shadow Lounge on April 6th.
The Dangdut Cowboys ride again! Dangdut (pronounced dahng-DUT) is Indonesia's most popular dance music. Created in the early 1970s, the genre blends Malay, Indian, Arabic, Latin, and Western musical elements. Pittsburgh-based band The Dangdut Cowboys mixes classic dangdut songs with country, blues, rock, and reggae.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Japanese film Jiro Dreams of Sushi in Squirrel Hill.

Join the Pittsburgh Japanese Culture, Language, and Food Meet-up group for dinner and a movie on April 6th to watch Jiro Dreams of Sushi at Squirrel Hill's Manor Theatre. The film is a story, says the official website,
of 85 year-old Jiro Ono, considered by many to be the world’s greatest sushi chef. He is the proprietor of Sukiyabashi Jiro, a 10-seat, sushi-only restaurant inauspiciously located in a Tokyo subway station. Despite its humble appearances, it is the first restaurant of its kind to be awarded a prestigious 3 star Michelin review, and sushi lovers from around the globe make repeated pilgrimage, calling months in advance and shelling out top dollar for a coveted seat at Jiro’s sushi bar.

For most of his life, Jiro has been mastering the art of making sushi, but even at his age he sees himself still striving for perfection, working from sunrise to well beyond sunset to taste every piece of fish; meticulously train his employees; and carefully mold and finesse the impeccable presentation of each sushi creation. At the heart of this story is Jiro’s relationship with his eldest son Yoshikazu, the worthy heir to Jiro’s legacy, who is unable to live up to his full potential in his father’s shadow.
The group will have dinner at Chaya---like the Manor Theatre also on Squirrel Hill's Murray Avenue---considered by a lot of Japanese in the area to be the best Japanese restaurant in Pittsburgh.

Pirates trade Japanese pitcher to Toronto.

The Pittsburgh Pirates are again without an Asian player, trading relief pitcher Ryota Igarashi to Toronto for future considerations. The site Jays Journal says he
won’t be considered for a position in the Jays’ bullpen given that it’s already full, so he’s purely a depth pickup and that will spend the season with Triple-A Las Vegas. As a pitcher with a decent splitter that can generate ground balls but also rack up strikeouts, though, he’s a solid, low cost pickup for Vegas’ bullpen.
Igarashi, a 32-year-old out of Chiba who has 5 wins in 79 Major League appearances, signed a minor-league contract with Pittsburgh in December, a move that completely escaped my notice.

Pittsburgh has experimented with a few Asian-born players, but none have lasted an entire season, as I noted in a December post about some rumored free agent targets. My favorite, for sentimental reasons because he was a guy I wanted to see succeed after finally getting to the US, was Masume Kuwata, the 39-year-old pitcher signed in 2007. The sequence on his Baseball Reference wiki, though, shows a typical Pirates acquisition:
"1987-1994: The Glory Years," "1995-1996: Injury," "1997-2002: Post-Injury," "2003-2006: Further decline," "To the USA."

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

See Korean cartoon "Leafie" in Pittsburgh, April 4th.

The animated film Leafie, a Hen into the Wild (마당을 나온 암탉) is the third and final installment of the University of Pittsburgh's small 2012 Korean Film Festival (풍산개 and the others), and will be showing Wednesday, April 4th at 6:00 pm at Posvar Hall.

Here's how a Winter 2011 review in Koreana Quarterly concludes about the film's significance:
Despite minor flaws in the scenes presented with 3D imagery, “Leafie, a Hen into the Wild” has what it takes to signal a new era for the Korean animation industry, thus far limited to a student-age audience, in terms of its uplifting theme, advanced technology effects, brilliant artistry, and beneficial synergy created through the joint efforts of the animation and live-action film sectors. Korea has already seen a number of its animation directors and animators receive high praise at prestigious international film festivals abroad. As such, the doors have now been opened wider for their growing ranks.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

New Korean bakery / cakery in Squirrel Hill.

Squirrel Hill is starting to feel like a teeny-tiny Koreatown: there's a Korean grocery in Young's (영스), Korean food at Green Pepper and Aseoma, and now a Korean bakery on Murray Avenue. Sumi's Cakery opened yesterday, March 24th, and is located on 2119 Murray Ave., in the spot formerly occupied by Sweet Tammy's. It's open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 am to 6 pm; get there early for the full selection of cakes, cupcakes, rice cakes, and other items.

There are some photos on the Facebook page.