Ben Fong-Torres says 'Bon Voyage' to fellow San Franciscans heading to the Shanghai Expo.
James Fang, San Francisco-Shanghai Sister City Committee Chairman, presents former S.F. Mayor Willie Brown with the recently published history, A Celebration: San Francisco-Shanghai Sister City Committee, Honoring 30 Years of Friendship, 1980-2010 . They will be part of San Francisco Week June 17 - 25 at the Shanghai World Expo.
We were in a well-appointed luxury apartment with a tenth floor Bay view to die - or at least get severely injured for. And most of the 40 or so guests, it seemed, were packed and set to jet off, in the next day or two, to China.
It reminded me, kinda, of a sendoff bash some 30 years ago, when I was part of a crew for Cycling Through China, an entertainment documentary. Two of the sponsors hosted a bash a few nights before we took off for Guangzhou, by way of L.A., Macau and Hong Kong. The room in their Pacific Heights home buzzed with excitement. The doors to China had opened, but the country was still in transition, with larger cities going through Westernization. Hotels and discos were being built, fast.
The title, Cycling Through China, said a lot. The primary mode of transportation was the bicycle. Highways were few; there was little need for them.
This time around, I was not going to China, but the buzz around the rooms was familiar. We were gathered to send off several contingents of San Franciscans, from political and social lights to ten groups of...
It was Cherry Blossom Festival time here in San Francisco in mid-April – the 44th such celebration in Japantown,and, once again, my buddy George Yamasaki served as the public address announcer, telling the crowds gathered along Post Street about the various contingents, floats, and dignitaries, from mayors and mayoral candidates to Hello Kitty and anime characters.
After 40 years of handling commentary duties on his own, George, an attorney and a pianist who accompanies me on my occasional singing sortieson unsuspecting audiences, asked me to sidekick. That meant reading a fewof the descriptions from the script, and dashing onto the street and doing a couple of interviews.
Mayor Ed Lee was one of them, and I wanted to ask him for the best and worst aspects of h is time in City Hall, which began in February as an interim appointment and ends when the next elected mayor takes office in January. Mayor Lee, who’s proven to be an effective and popular chief executive, waxed so rhapsodic about the “best” stuff that I gave up on the worst. Still, as we passed the VIP seats, where a bevy of beauty queens and princesses were perched, I asked, “Is the second best thing getting to walk by all these lovely women?” No, he said. But only because some of them had already dropped by City Hall for a photo op.
Later, State Sen. Leland Yee strode up to chat. We’d seen each other at various community events, including a Jerry Garcia Day concert, where he reminisced about...
Cindy Cheung, Jennifer Ikeda, Julienne Hanzelka Kim, Alfredo Narciso, Debargo Sanyal, and James Yaegashi are featured in I_NY by Ma Yi at TADA Theater.
From November 7-23, Ma-Yi Theater Company presents I __ NY , a workshop production by Loy Arcenas, Lonnie Carter, and Ralph Pea at TADA! Theater, 15 W. 28th St. in New York. Directed by Loy Arcenas, I __ NY , features contributions from castmembers Cindy Cheung, Jennifer Ikeda, Julienne Hanzelka Kim, Alfredo Narciso, Debargo Sanyal, and James Yaegashi.
A dynamic collaboration among the MAGNO RUBIO creators with contributions from the cast and crew, I __ NY is a daring exploration of some of the finest, brightest, heartbreakingest and funniest New Yorkers, some born and bred, some newly arrived, some fresh off Cathay Pacific. In English with bursts of Bengali, Japanese, Mandarin and Espagnyol, I __ NY is a special mosaic of New Yorkers you rarely, if ever, see on stage.
15 W. 28th St.
(between 5th Ave. and Broadway)
Dates: Nov. 7 - 23, 2008
Time: Wed-Sat @8PM, Sun @ 3PM
Tickets are $15. Call (212) 971-4862 or visit www.ma-yitheatre.org, TDF vouchers accepted.
Ben Fong-Torres discovers an Asian blueswoman, plus an online locker for all your music.
I was at Biscuits n Blues, a combo plate of blues nightclub and restaurant (with a Southern accent) in downtown San Francisco, working on a feature about a band comprised mostly of chefs. At B n B, the Back Burner Blues Band likes to invite people from the audience to jam, and, as I sat at the bar, taking notes, I couldnt help but take special note of a young Asian woman with long black hairand an electric guitar.
Heres how shes introduced in the article I wrotepublished in a recent San Francisco Chronicle. Im quoting one of the chefs, Gordon Drysdale , telling why he likes the jam sessions.
Its nerve-wracking, but exhilarating, and weve had some great moments. Like this woman, Angelawow! The ferocity with which she attacked everything. Im under-confident, so to see anybody get up there and do it with such convictionIve had to rethink how I approach everything.
Angela is Angela Lum , a 25 year-old with flowing black hair, dressed in a cowboy shirt and jeans, slinging a guitar and wailing an original blues ('B Minor Slide') with a throaty, gravelly voice, the flip side to (Back Burners co-lead vocalist) Leah Tysses smooth gospel tones.
Turns out Lum is a tech consultant (specializing in Web 2.0) from the Napa Valley. She met a couple of the chef-rockers at a blues club in the wine country a few months ago, and they invited her to play with them at Biscuits n Blues, where they play the...
May 30, 2011
What a great way to end a terrible month. Here it was, Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, and I spent most of May with a cold, a bout of laryngitis and general misery.
But I saved up energy for a couple of events, including a birthday bash for my pal Sherry Hu, the veteran reporter at KPIX-TV (“CBS 5”) who just retired after 34 years there. She and husband Karl Nichols chose to celebrate with about 60 friends at the Silver Dragon restaurant in Oakland.
And at our table, there were Art and Mary Fong. Sherry’s cousin, Bob Wong (a classmate of mine in junior high school) is married to Sheryl Fong, daughter of Art and Mary. Got it?
Across the table, Art waved at me, so I went over and learned that he’d seen me on various broadcasts of the Chinese New Year Parade and at community events. Now, finally, we were able to say hello.
Fong, who is 91, encouraged me to Google him. “Art Fong, HP,” he said. HP—as in Hewlett Packard. Long before it became known for its printers and computers, this company, beginning in the late Thirties, specialized in electronic test equipment. Art Fong would become one of the most valued engineers at what became one of the most inventive tech companies in war time. And, as he told me, “Back prior to 1940, it could not have been done. It took WWII for them to let us do these things.”
What “things?” I did as I was told. I Googled Art. Talk about your Asian Pacific Heritage.
In 1946, Fong, a native of...