Entertainment Spotlight

  • Catching Up: Santana, Taj Mahal and a déjà vu ‘Blue Christmas’

    Posted by Ben Fong-Torres

    By Ben Fong-Torres It’s short shrift time. I have a life that’s ripe (and slightly wrinkled) for blogs and tweeting; for facebooking and updating. I’m just no good at it. My last column here on AsianConnections was about the memorial in late July for my sister Shirley. My last posting on the authors’ site, Redroom, was about a radio promo tour I did (20 stops, all on the phone...

Fun & Games with a Videocam And a Multimedia Montage Site

Ben Fong-Torres

Ben on the Fangs and their AsianWeek publication of Kenneth Eng's 'Why I Hate Blacks' column. An apology is not enough.

Ben then joins the 'You Tube' video generation and shares behind the scenes clips of his fun prepping for and co-hosting the San Francisco Chinese New Year Parade broadcast on KTVU. Plus a session with The Doors' Ray Manzarek.

Fun & Games with a Videocam And a Multimedia Montage Site

BUT FIRST: Before the fun and games, do take a look at my colleague Bill Wong's essay on the whole controversy at AsianWeek, a paper that shouldve known better, but didnt.

As a long-time reporter and editor myself, I will add this: I agree with those who believe that higher-ups at the weekly wanted to stir up the pot. When youre a national publication, a self-proclaimed Voice of the Asian American Community, and are wallowing with a circulation of fewer than 50,000, it makes sense that you want to do somethingespecially when newspapers with ten times that circulation figure are fighting new media, losing readers and ads, and slashing budgets.

AsianWeek dismissed the writer of the offensive essay, Kenneth Eng. But until Ted Fang, the front man whos been doing all the apologizing, takes real action and fires editor Samson Wong and/or whoever was responsible for allowing the column to be published, Ill assume that hes not all that sorry about the publicity (albeit negative) that his paper has generated. The Fangs know, as well as anyone, that theres really no such thing as bad publicity. Just spell their name right.

P.S. Although the paper ran a long (but unsigned) statement of apology on February 28, as of March 6, its Web site was still carrying Engs previous work, including a column titled Proof That Whites Inherently Hate Us.

VIDEO SCHMIDEO: For the 11th year, I co-anchored the San Francisco Chinese New Year Parade on KTVU. We had a blast, Julie Haener and I did. It was our seventh year together, and, so far, no itch. For us, the year of the boar was the smoothest of all the parades weve hosted. Although its shown only in Northern California, I can now show you parts of it, thanks to our being in the YouTube generation.

Chinese New Year Parade On the Air!

Readying for the New Year Parade

A while ago, I discovered a videocam, from Pure Digital, that is magic. Tiny, cheap, and perfect for grabbing video and emailing or posting it, its a variation on the ones you may have seen at Rite-Aid or CVS stores. Those are disposable. You shoot, bring in the camera, and get a DVD. Pure Digital also makes 30- and 60-minute models that you use indefinitely. You shoot and, with a built-in USB connector, save the videos onto your computer. From there, you can edit and show off your stuff. The camera is the size of an iPod, and the hour model is about $139 online. Ridiculous!

But thenI found, through Ken Wang, a former fellow worker, OneTrueMedia.com, a site that allows you to upload videos, still photos, and audio, ranging from mp.3s to music they have on the site. You can create montages, add captions, clip extraneous video footage, and share your creations with friends, or put it up in the public Gallery. And sharing doesnt involve either cumbersome e-mail attachments or messages to friends that require them to sign up for some photo site, or beat back come-ons to buy photos and albums. Recipients get your message, click your link, and the video comes on.

Ive taken my Pure Digital everywhere, as you can see here. Not only can I show you some of the New Year Parade, but also the TV crew in our broadcast tent on Union Square. Plus, best of all, a shot of Julie in her Shanghai-inspired coat.

Days before the parade, I shot some of our script reading, at KTVU in Oakland. When I shared this with my sister, Sarah Watkins, she thought all we did there was crack jokes and laugh. Thats not the case, but, thanks to editing, it appears that way. A couple of days after the readings, Julie and I hit a bunch of radio stations to promote the broadcast. More laughs. I should add that several of the radio peoples eyes widened at the videocam. Everybody wants one. Highlight of the video of the script reading: Julie Haener, TV anchor, says the word loin, after encountering it as a typo of lion, as in lion dancers

At OneTrueMedia, Wang and others have made it possible for me to put together some pretty special montages, using vintage video from my interviews with Paul McCartney, Steve Martin, and Grace Slick (who visited her acupuncturist, Ron Dong, on camera) from 1976. Ill post one of those as soon as Im sure that Im legally allowed to. (If you visit www.onetruemedia.com and snoop around the gallery, youll find a montage of photos of celebrities Ive interviewed over the years. Its called Almost Famous Meets the Famous. Early on in my time at Rolling Stone, I made it a point to never ask artists for photos or autographs. Any pictures that were taken were candid. Boy, that was stupid. I missed out on Ray Charles, Marvin Gaye, Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, Diana Ross, Elton Johnpretty much everybody. But there were those candids, and, in more recent years, Ive been less shy, so theres a pretty good parade of musicians and movie stars to peep.)

And, finally, back to live action: Check out Ray Manzarek, keyboard player of The Doors. We went around to a couple of Bay Area bookstores to promote The Doors By the Doors, which I wrote and which has, thank you, visited the L.A. Times best-sellers list twice. At the Booksmith on Haight Street, Ray did a masterful deconstruction of their greatest hit, Light My Fire. By chance, a fan, Larry Gerald, videotaped the whole thing from a front row seat and sent it to me. And, now, you get to see it.

The Doors By the Doors

Enjoy, light a fire or two, and dont be a hater.

Ben Fong-Torres, AsianConnections' very own Renaissance man is an Emmy award-winning broadcaster, author, karaoke singer, and former senior editor and writer at Rolling Stone Magazine.

Visit Ben's official website
www.BenFongTorres.com