Friday, August 29, 2008
Opening acts Michelle Amador and Scrabbel started things off nicely, with Goh and co. finishing the night off with a solid set of his characteristic strumming and crooning. Goh played a lot of the songs on his new album, which I was sure to pick up a copy of (as well as his previous album and one of Scrabbel's to boot). The set also featured Goh demonstrating his linguistic skills by telling the crowd his Japanese sucks (in Japanese!!!), and did any of you Radiohead fans catch him quoting "High and Dry" toward the end of the set? Nice.
Thanks again to Kurt Kurasaki for hooking it up with tickets to the show! I'm not sure what was more enjoyable, the show, or some of your favorite Nakayoshi folks unwinding at the bar on a Wednesday night. Gooood times. Look below for the incriminating photos, and be sure to stay tuned for Nakayoshi's next night out!
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Favorite Pro Sports Team: Chicago White Sox
I've written lots of profiles of Japanese Americans, but never of myself, and it feels a little weird. So let's keep this brief.
I joined Chicago JACL five or six years ago, editing the chapter newsletter, serving on the board, and (as in the accompanying photos) helping organize youth programming. I also volunteered a little with the Japanese American Service Committee and put together an online multimedia exhibition on Chicago JA sports leagues for the Chicago Japanese American Historical Society.
I used to contribute to the Chicago Shimpo, and am currently a staff writer for the Nichi Bei Times in San Francisco, a newspaper which you should subscribe to. Like, now. Stop reading and go subscribe. You can do it online.
Okay, now that that's taken care of... I figure it might also be relevant to mention that I recently curated an exhibit that's on display through the end of this week at the National Japanese American Historical Society; it's about my former campus group, Hapa Issues Forum, which I belonged to as a student at UC Berkeley.
In my spare time, I play Asian league basketball, go on hikes with my girlfriend, and contemplate how to be less curmudgeonly.
Done and done.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
After reading Angry Asian Man this morning, I found out the Liberty Live Tour 2008 is traveling across the nation to help promote awareness of the injustices of the humanitarian crisis in North Korea.
The tour features the band Miss Vintage and LA-based singer/songwriter Andy Grammer collaborating with non-profit org Liberty in North Korea (LiNK) to raise awareness of North Korean human rights violations in 22 major cities/universities.
LiNK presented a workshop on the human rights crisis in North Korea at the 2007 JACL National Youth Conference in Santa Clara.
UC Berkeley is included as a stop on that tour on Sunday, October 12th.
Tickets are only $10.00. Looks like it would be a great October Event for Nakayoshi. Let us know if you're interested in going!
Definitely take some time to educate yourself on the issues that are happening in North Korea, and if you're interested in finding out more on how you can help or get involved, feel free to contact the NCWNP Youth Reps (Megumi and Jenn) at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Friday, August 15, 2008
Goh Nakamura is a SF Bay Area based musician who likes to write ditties about parking tickets, impossible crushes and faraway dreamlands (amongst other things). Accompanying himself with digital samplers and an acoustic guitar, his live solo shows are always unique and often unpredictable.
Goh has contributed his guitar and vocal work to the Ridley Scott films "A Good Year" and most recently "American Gangster". His song "Daylight Savings" was chosen to be included on the soundtrack to the Robert Benton film "Feast of Love" starring Morgan Freeman and Greg Kinnear. His debut album "Daylight Savings" is available at cdbaby.com and itunes. His long awaited 2nd album, "Ulysses" will be available on August 20th.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Before I became involved with Nakayoshi, I was active in various student orgs at UC Santa Cruz. My love and commitment to community organizations and desire for social change began during my undergrad years and through meeting so many amazing friends and mentors, my eyes were opened to a whole new world.
Graduating in June of '06 with a BA in Sociology and minor in Education, I moved to San Francisco to survive the “real world”. I currently work as a Marketing Coordinator for TechInsights.
In the comments section of the Curbed SF posting regarding the HOA/Developer complaint, one particular person posted:
...please keep in mind that people actually live in those condos who had nothing to do with the letters sent to the festival boards. Many of them have worked hard to be homeowners in the City, and in no way deserve to have their homes defecated on /vandalized.
Fair enough, no homeowner or resident in any neighborhood deserves this, but this comment unfairly (and incorrectly) assumes the worst about what has happened in the neighborhood and to the building as a result of these neighborhood celebrations. Maybe this happens at other street fairs and festivals in this city, but I'm pretty sure that the participants at the Nihonmachi Street Fair aren't coming into Japantown to tag up the place with graffiti or to poop on your stoop. I know for a fact that the residents of Japantown do care a great deal about the condition of Japantown's sidewalks and public spaces. Senior citizens and other volunteers from the old folks' homes around Japantown can be seen cleaning up graffiti and litter throughout the neighborhood on a regular basis all year long. The San Francisco chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League in conjunction with the Japantown Task Force organized a neighborhood cleanup for local volunteers, including local boy scout troops, prior to the Cherry Blossom Festival this past year. I know that volunteers from the Nihonmachi Street Fair committee patrolled the neighborhood on night shifts the entire night between the two days of the event to make sure the areas used by the fair were undisturbed. If anything, Japantown and 1600 Webster Street were even safer than usual from vandals or public defecation precisely because the Nihonmachi Street Fair was being held.
People need to recognize that there's an entire community reaching beyond just the residents of the neighborhood that care deeply about Japantown, and that their concern extends far beyond just real estate property values. These festivals attract a lot of different people to the neighborhood, including the ones who care about it the most.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Nakayoshi members were also out and about helping sign and distribute the JCCCNC's petition to save our Japantown festivals. While it's only been a couple of days since the festival, I haven't heard of any complaints following the festival from the developer or HOA at 1600 Webster Street. So far so good. Here are some links from around the interwebs discussing the complaints that we posted about last time:
Friday, August 8, 2008
Dear Japantown Community Supporters,
Our Japantown community festivals are being threatened. Please show your support of our festivals and celebrations by helping to gather signatures this Saturday and Sunday during the Nihonmachi Street Fair to help SAVE OUR JAPANTOWN COMMUNITY FESTIVALS.
24 Clipboards of the petition are available at the JCCCNC lobby for your pick-up and return during the hours between 10:00am - 5:00pm. If you can spare an hour or two on either day to collect signatures during the Nihonmachi Street Fair, it would be greatly appreciated.
There are no assigned shifts on either day, please just help out whenever you are available. Let the person in the front office know that you are there to help gather signatures; they in turn will assign you a clipboard for you to collect signatures. Please return the clipboard back to the JCCCNC when you are done.
The purpose of the petition is to help educate the community and participants of our festivals about how important it is to preserve our community and that we can never take things for granted. First it was us, then our homes and businesses, our property, next our festivals? It's time for everyone to get involved! Thank you for showing your support of our Japantown Community Festivals.
(Please forward this e-mail)
Here's the text of the complaint and response:
Below are excerpts from e-mails from the President and the Developer of the 1600 Webster Sreet Condo's, the former site of the Japantown Bowl to the Nihonmachi Street Fair Committee:
To Nihonmachi Street Fair Committee
As you are aware, this Association (along with other members of this neighborhood) must tolerate what seems to be an endless use of Post and Webster Streets for a series of look-alike street fairs with the same purveyors of schlocky souvenirs, mediocre food stands and exhibitors who have absolutely no relationship to the community. There is no other neighborhood which is asked to put up with these sorts of disruptions, and that, of course, doesn't include the disruption presented by the Fillmore Street Fair which is only one block away.
Thus, we find it astonishing that the Fair organizers would propose an event that would leave the neighborhood in worse condition than you found it and then impose your clean-up costs on this Association and other property owners. The streets and sidewalks of this neighborhood are usually filthy, especially those that surround that appalling mall, and 1600 Webster already devotes part of its yearly budget to the maintenance of its sidewalks and street trees from which this neighborhood receives a direct benefit.
We want to make it very clear to you that if the neighborhood sidewalks are not
cleaned in an adequate fashion this year, this Association will file a protest with the City when you seek a permit for next year's street fair.
David H. Zisser
President, 1600 Webster Street Homeowners' Association
This is real simple. You want to put on an event; you take responsibility. In this instance, you make a mess, you clean it up. You don't get the benefits (proceeds), without the liabilities (expenses). If your event doesn't make money, you should rethink it's usefulness. In any event, if we have to clean up afterwards, we will not only oppose the event next year we will look to small claims court to reimburse us for clean up costs. We don't need a bunch of emailing back and forth on this. It is not a negotiation.
Developer 1600 Webster Street
Dear Mr. Zisser,
Thank you for your email regarding the upcoming Nihonmachi Street Fair.
After thoroughly reading your reply I am very troubled by the response you presented.
The Nihonmachi Street Fair (NSF) like the many other community events held in and around Japantown has always worked with our neighbors both residential, community organizations and businesses to make sure that we keep our streets clean and that the event is a successful one especially for the many non profit organizations that participate.
We have never received any negative comments like this and it puts a damper on what we hope will attract many visitors to the area. The Nihonmachi Street Fair has always done our best to keep the streets of Japantown pristine after the event closes each day. Our committee knows how important it is to not only represent the NSF in a positive manner, but that our actions also reflect our organization and more importantly our community.
Due to very limited funds this year we are unable to spend the funds to hire the City to steam clean the sidewalk area directly in front of the 1600 Webster condo. The Food Fest area will be contained on Post Street. Other than having our volunteers sweep the streets during and after the event, as well as the Department of Public Works coming by to sweep the entire Fair areas, we should be fine. Of course if any of the streets that we use are soiled and are an eye sore we do go out there and physically scrub the area.
Nihonmachi Street Fair Response
Did reading this make you angry? That's certainly how I felt immediately after reading this. This demonstrates pretty clearly how this particular real estate developer in Japantown does not have any regard for the community that exists in the neighborhood. I personally have never noticed the area looking any worse following any of the community festivals, as the community volunteers and planning committees, as well as the SF Dept. of Public Works generally do an adequate job cleaning up. The disparaging remarks directed toward the community festivals are completely unneccesary and disrespectful to our entire community. The most telling remark was from the developer himself:
"If your event doesn't make money, you should rethink it's usefulness."
That's not really what these celebrations are actually about, are they?
In any case, this incident demonstrates the need for our community to be watchful of who these real estate developers are, and how their development plans affect the community. There's been enough bad history in Japantown with the developer of 1600 Webster Street, John McInerney III. The modern lofts/condominiums that stand today at 1600 Webster Street are what replaced the Japantown Bowl following the sale of the property by Kintetsu Enterprises Co. of America back in 2001 (here's an old article from AsianWeek covering the sale). The adverse economic and social effects of tearing down the bowling alley and replacing it with condos are documented by the Japantown Task Force in this report. I think the community is particularly wary of this whole situation because John McInerney is also a former member of the San Francisco Board of Appeals and may still be able to exert enough influence through his connections to prevent festivals in Japantown from happening in the future.
So where does that leave us? For now, we can come to the Nihonmachi Street Fair and help get these petitions put out by the JCCCNC signed by everyone who participates in the event and enjoys the opportunity for the community to gather in a public space. We can be mindful of the neighborhood and do what we can to not make a mess. What's most important is that by coming out to our community events, we demonstrate that supporting these events and the community behind them actually enriches the city and serves the social and economic interests (including property values) of those who reside and work in the neighborhood.
Anyone else have a reaction or something to say on the issue? Comments are welcome! Hopefully we'll see you this weekend at the Nihonmachi Street Fair (Nakayoshi will be volunteering on Saturday in the children's area)!