OFF TOPIC: WTF MARCUS EPSTEIN WTF?

Okay, so this is a little off the rails of this blog’s intended purpose (e.g., discussion of Asian Americans, comics, and Asian American comics), but I don’t currently have anywhere else to post my thoughts on breaking events, and anyway, I’ll do my best to circle back to some kind of rationale for posting this here.

Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Wingnuttia) is one of the most vitriolic attackers of the Supreme Court candidacy of Judge Sonia Sotomayor; notably, he’s called into question her membership in the Hispanic American advocacy organization National Council of La Raza, which he has referred to as a “Latino KKK without the hoods and nooses.” (And without the history of racist violence, or supremacist ideology, or toxic anonymity, or deep-rooted influence on America’s tragic record on race. But otherwise, just exactly like the KKK!)

Of course, this only opens up the standard “takes one to know one” line of retort, and by that standard Tancredo should be quite the authority on knowing racists.

You see, Tancredo’s hostility toward Sotomayor is due in great part to his broader hostility toward off-white folk, especially those who hail from places other than this great nation of ours (and only ours): The grandson of Italian immigrants has spent most of his legislative career and bully-pulpit bandwidth trying to turn out Liberty’s lamp, lock the golden door, and disperse the huddled masses with pepper gas and rubber bullets.

  • He sponsored a bill called the “Mass Immigration Reduction Act,” which would have imposed an indefinite moratorium on immigration to the United States. Under the act, only spouses and children of American citizens would be allowed to immigrate.
  • He believes illegal immigrants are the greatest threat to America’s security, claiming that federal prisons are overflowing with illegals, some of whom aim to “harm people,” and has been quoted as saying “They’re coming here to kill you, and you, and me, and my grandchildren.” During his abortive campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, he released an ad called “Tough on Terror,” positing a future in which inept border security leads to a catastrophic new terrorist attack. Over images of an injured child and a wrecked train, the ad’s voiceover says, “There are consequences to open borders beyond the 20 million aliens who have come to take our jobs … the price we pay for spineless politicians who refuse to defend our borders against those who come to kill.”
  • He wants to spend billions erecting an enormous wall between Mexico and the U.S., and believes mayors and city council members who adopt “sanctuary city policies” should be tried as criminals.

  • And to ensure that his bizarre brand of ultra-paranoid xenophobia spreads virally through the ranks of the Right’s next generation, he’s created a PAC that “identif[ies], recruit[s], and help[s] elect to public office individuals who are committed to enforcing our laws and securing our borders.”

And that’s where the sad part comes in. It turns out that the guy Tancredo appointed to run this PAC as executive director is a toolbox named Marcus Epstein…who happens to be half Korean, half Jewish, and all all a-hole.

Epstein is expected to be sentenced on July 8 for a charge—to which he has pled “guilty“—that he karate-chopped (tae kwon do chopped?) an African American female while calling her “n*gger.” For no reason. While walking down the street muttering to himself. All according to witnesses, including the federal agent who apprehended him.

It’s amazing that Tancredo has been able to find a proxy for his loathsome views who’s actually more insane and racist than he is. It’s embarassing that he happens to be Asian American, though one somehow doubts that he uses that label proudly, any more than does, say, Michelle Malkin.

If there’s anything funny about this sad set of circus clowns, it’s the name of the PAC that Epstein runs on Tancredo’s behalf: It’s called the Team America PAC. Perfect. Did they name the PAC after the hilariously impolitic puppet movie by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, thinking it was a frakkin’ documentary or something?

I’m going to say yes. Because I can totally imagine Epstein, Tancredo and their hate-filled, anti-immigrant pals dressing up in their spare time as a paramilitary super-soldier squad, convinced that they’re defending America against the invading hordes of brown disease-ridden evil rapist deathmongers. Plus Kim Jong Il. Assuming that Epstein’s mom is South Korean, anyway. America, f*ck yeah!

And on that note, please do check out Installment Two of our downloadable, browsable Discussion Guides for Secret Identities—and look, this one happens to be about immigration!

See? I told you I’d circle back somehow.

We’re in LOS ANGELES! And we’re…everywhere. So join us!

REMINDER: We’re in L.A.! And those of you living in Ventura County, you already know we’re here in the Southland because our very own Parry Shen the front cover of the Ventura County Star’s weekend magazine, Time Out, as part of a gloriously full-color four-page feature on Secret Identities! Linky here, but we’ll put up pics of the dead wood edition when we can—it’s amazing.

Meanwhile, the full SI editorial crew is in town for a series (and we mean series) of back to back to back events, including our official West Coast launch party, generously hosted by the Japanese American National Museum, and sponsored by Kirin Beer (which means free beer, folks) and Hakutsuru Sake (which means free sake, for heaven’s sake). All events are free and open to the public—so come on out! Also, while the Kogi Taco Truck was detoured on its way to our event by heinous forces of villainy, Marked 5 will be bringing their truck to the event, selling their delicious Torakku Burgers (featuring handmade rice buns)! Check out their menu here: http://www.marked5.com/menu.html

Yesterday’s events included a signing at Barnes & Noble in Thousand Oaks, and an awesome reading/signing/presentation at the awesome Skylight Books in Los Feliz—our fave lit hang in the L.A. region. Pics from the latter will be up soon—watch this space.

Today’s events, meanwhile, are:

Saturday, May 30
11 to 1 pm: Barnes & Noble, Encino
16461 Ventura Blvd, Encino, CA 91436 (818) 380-1636

2:30 to 4:30 pm: Torrance Public Library
3301 Torrance Blvd, Torrance, CA

6:30 to 11 pm: OFFICIAL WEST COAST LAUNCH PARTY at the Japanese American National Museum
369 East First Street Los Angeles , CA 90012 (213) 625-0414

THE NEW SECRET IDENTITIES TEACHERS GUIDE IS NOW UP!


Learners and educators: The second in our series of free, downloadable and browsable Discussion Guides for the book is now up on our site, in both HTML and PDF format!

Our first Guide, focusing on Section One: War and Remembrance, explored the complex legacy of World War II for the Asian American community (from the attack on Pearl Harbor to Japanese American internment to the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, to the long history of Asian American “soldiers of conscience”).

The second, focusing on Section Two: When Worlds Collide, looks at perhaps the defining theme of the Asian American condition: The intersection of cultures, heritages and traditions, from the varied stories of Asian immigrants to the U.S., to the unspoken legacies of American military colonialism, to the arrival of Islam to America.

These guides don’t just provide a tool for educators to open up discussion around issues raised within the book—they’re also a great way to explore some of the real-world historical context that inspired the book’s stories, and to learn about aspects of the Asian American experience we weren’t able to include within the book’s 200 pages. Check ’em out now!

Secret Identities All Over New York

This past weekend was a banner one for SECRET IDENTITIES as we held two stellar events in New York City. The first one was a reception and panel at the Time Life Building for Time Warner’s Asian American Association. Joining the editors (Jeff, Keith, Jerry, and Jef) were comic superstars Cliff Chiang and Christine Norrie. The panel was moderated by DC/Vertigo‘s incomparable editor extraordinaire Pornsak Pichetshote.

Before the panel, though, there was a wine and cheese reception on the second floor of the building where original artwork from SECRET IDENTITIES was on display. In addition to original pages from stories in the book, some artists also contributed brand new pieces for the gallery. The editors only regret is that they weren’t able to stay long at the reception!

Then, on Saturday, the legendary Larry Hama joined Cliff and Christine (and Keith, Jerry, Jef) for a really cool signing at Midtown Comics in Times Square! I think I speak for the whole SI team when I say that it was an honor and a privelege to be at the same table with people as great and cool as Larry, Christine and Cliff! Also, big shout out to all the fans that showed up to get their books scribbled in and especially to the staff and crew of Midtown. You guys are the best!

And be sure to check out Jerry Ma as he looks back at the week that was on his blog at epic props. While you’re at it, peep the video interview embedded below shot by the fine folks at PopCultureShock.com!

"SI" West Coast Launch Party, this Sat. May 30 and So. Cal events!!


* EDIT: Kirin Beer is the beer sponsor. Hakutsuru Sake will be providing the Sake. There was a conflict with the Kogi Truck but in lieu, Marked 5’s truck will have their truck parked outside after the event and selling their delicious Torakku Burgers with handmade rice buns! Check out their menu here: http://www.marked5.com/menu.html

STOP! Before you make your weekend plans, be sure to set some time aside for “SI“!

You are cordially invited to the “Secret Identities” Southern California Launch party this Saturday, May 30 at the Japanese American National Museum at 6:30pm.

Sapporo will be sponsoring the evening. The famous Kogi Taco Truck (http://www.yelp.com/biz/kogi-los-angeles) will make an appearance, music, desserts, a gallery presentation of original artwork from the book and silent auction.

Hear the contributors’ inspirations about their respective pieces and you’ll witness an original Asian American superhero created on the spot from the audience’s suggestions and drawn to life in a shootout by our contributing artists on hand. The event is free and open to the public – parking is available for $6.50 in a lot located directly across the street.

It should be a fun night to get your copies signed and sketched in by a slew of contribs (here’s an example on the right that was done at a previous event):

Japanese American National Museum
369 East First Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Sat, May 30 – 6:30pm-11pm

Scheduled to appear : Lynn Chen, Keiko Agena, Bernard Chang, Michael Kang, Jonathan Tseui, Daniel Jai Lee, A.L. Baroza, Jason Sperber, Benton Jew, Jeff Yang, Parry Shen, Keith Chow and Jerry Ma.

However, if you can’t make the big shin-dig on Saturday, there are PLENTY of other opportunities to catch us ALL OVER Southern California that weekend:

*indicates simultaneous events

FRIDAY – MAY 29 (2 events):

1) *Friday, May 29 – 7 to 8pm (video+talk+signing)
Barnes & Noble – Thousand Oaks
160 S. Westlake Blvd
Thousand Oaks, CA 91362

(805) 446-2820
Scheduled to appear : Parry Shen and Jerry Ma.

2) *Friday, May 29 – 7:30 to 8:30pm (video+talk+signing)

Skylight Books

1818 N. Vermont Avenue
Los Angeles , CA 90027
(323) 660-1175

Scheduled to appear : Bernard Chang, Michael Kang, Benton Jew, Daniel Jai Lee and Jeff Yang.

SAT – MAY 30 (3 events):

1) Sat, May 30 – 11 to 1pm
(video+talk+signing)

Barnes & Noble – Encino

16461 Ventura Blvd
Encino , CA 91436
(818) 380-1636

Scheduled to appear : Lynn Chen, Keiko Agena, Leonardo Nam, Jeff Yang, Parry Shen, Keith Chow and Jerry Ma.


2) Sat, May 30 – 2:30 to 4:30pm
(video+talk+signing)

Torrance Public Library (Katy Geissert Civic Center)

3301 Torrance Blvd, Torrance , CA , 90503, (310) 618-5959

Sc
heduled to appear : Keiko Agena, Jeff Yang, Parry Shen, Keith Chow & Jerry Ma.

3) Sat, May 30 – 6:30pm-11pm
(video+talk/workshop+signing)

Japanese American National Museum,
369 East First Street,
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(See above)

SUN – MAY 31 (3 events):

1) *Sun, May 31 – 12 to 4pm (Meet & Greet)

Barnes & Noble – Woodland Hills

The Promenade
6100 Topanga Canyon Blvd Suite 1340
Woodland Hills , CA 91367

(818) 704-3850

Scheduled to appear : Keiko Agena, Jeff Yang and Bernard Chang



2) *Sunday, May 31 – 3 to 4:30pm
(video+talk+signing)
Borders – Thousand Oaks
125 W. Thousand Oaks Blvd.

Thousand Oaks, CA 91360

(805) 497-8159
Scheduled to appear : Parry Shen and Jerry Ma



.

3) Sunday, May 31, 5:30 to 7pm

Giant Robot 2
(video+talk+signing)
2062 Sawtelle Blvd

Los Angeles CA 90025
(310) 445-9276

Scheduled to appear : Keiko Agena, Benton Jew, Jonathan Tseui, Michael Kang, A.L. Baroza, Koji Steven Sakai, Jeff Yang, Parry Shen, Keith Chow & Jerry Ma.

As you can see, it’s very easy to get too big for one’s britches with all these stores rolling out the royal treatment with their in-store promotions, which is why seeing something like this – a patron using our book as his personal coaster – is great to knock you back down into reality every once in awhile!

And for those on the East Coast, save the date for July 11th for our NYC bash at the Museum of Chinese in America!

Please spread the word and don’t forget to add your comments on our Amazon product page!

Secret Identities at Time Warner

Our illustrious Senior Artist Jef Castro snapped some photos of the Secret Identities artwork that is currently on display at Time Warner, Inc. Gallery.

As we said earlier, we’ll be at a special panel hosted by Time’s Asian American Association this Thursday at 6pm talking about the book and presenting the artwork on display in these photos.

Check it out!

A3 PANEL: SECRET IDENTITIES

Hi everyone!
This is my first post on our SI blog. This is Jef, the Senior Artist of Secret Identities. For our upcoming Time Inc. A3 Panel, I designed this flier to promote the event. I hope you all can make it out… did I mention that this is a FREE event?

Here’s the 411:

A3 – The Asian American Association of Time Inc.
Celebrates Asian American Heritage Month

A3 Panel: Secret Identities: Asian Americans in Comics

Thursday, May 21, 2009
5:45pm to 6:30pm — 2nd Floor Gallery Reception – Original artwork
from the book will be displayed
6:30pm to 8:00pm — 8th Floor Auditorium – Panel Discussion, Q&A, Book Signing

Address: Time & Life Building, 1271 Avenue of the Americas (50th & 6th Ave), NYC

*This Event is FREE
*Please RSVP to A3_mail@timeinc.com with “A3 Comics Panel” in the
subject line by Tuesday, May 19, 2009
(Photo ID required, Please arrive promptly)

Linky Love: Status Quoted

So call it a logroll if you want, but having just discovered the new virtual digs of former Vertical Inc. publicitrix-slash-blogger Anne Ishii, I feel compelled to reveal them to the world—not least because a.) She was gracious enough to moderate our standing-room-only panel at this year’s New York Comic Con, b.) She is ridiculously cool, and with the world headed for global-warming-induced meltdown, one needs all the cool one can get, and c.) Her latest blogpost at “Status Quoted,” the Asian American culture ‘n’ stuff blog of L.A.-based ad agency InterTrend, is about Secret Identities. And hell, isn’t crypto-incestuous connectivity what the internetworkz are all about anyway? Oh yes: She also has a must-read personal blog, though it’s likely to be updated with less regularity (though, we’re sure, no less wit and sass) given her new InterTrending gig.

SI Teacher Guides Have Officially Launched

Official Press Release is below:

CONTACT
Keith Chow (keith@secretidentities.org)
Jeff Yang (jeff@secretidentities.org)

SECRET IDENTITIES: THE ASIAN AMERICAN SUPERHERO ANTHOLOGY UNVEILS THE FIRST OF SIX FREE DOWNLOADABLE TEACHER GUIDES

Free Study and Discussion Aids Provide Historical Context, Additional Resources for History, Cultural Studies and Asian American Studies Courses; Supplying Educators with Powerful Tools to Bring Discussion of Critical Asian American Issues Into the Classrooms.

May 13, 2009—As Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month nears its midpoint, the editors of SECRET IDENTITIES, the groundbreaking Asian American superhero anthology, have released the first of six free downloadable Teacher Guides designed to provide educators with a simple way to integrate discussion of critical Asian American issues into the classroom, using the stories of SECRET IDENTITIES as an entry point to raising historical and cultural topics related to the dynamic but often overlooked Asian American community.

The first Guide—covering Section One of SECRET IDENTITIES, a chapter themed around the legacy of World War II titled “War and Remembrance”—is now available for download at the official SECRET IDENTITIES website here.

Over the next five weeks, a new Teacher Guide will be posted to the SECRET IDENTITIES website. These guides include valuable historical context, provocative discussion questions and bibliographies of further resources, as well as in-depth lesson plans for educators seeking a more complete addition to their curricula. Each guide focuses on the issues and events that inspired the stories in the chapter it covers. For example:

• The building of the Transcontinental Railroad (Driving Steel)
• The Japanese American internment during WWII (9066)
• The all-Nisei 100th Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat team (Heroes Without a Country)
• The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (The Hibakusha)
• The arrival of Islam in America (No Exit)
• The incarceration of Dr. Wen Ho Lee (Peril)
• Immigration, media representation, racial stereotypes, and more.

“We’ve always been firm believers in the power of graphic novels to untangle complex issues,” says Keith Chow, SECRET IDENTITIES education and outreach director. “These guides provide an engaging way for educators to illuminate the Asian American experience, using a student-friendly, readily accessible medium.”

EXAMINATION COPIES
For professors considering the use of SECRET IDENTITIES in the classroom, The New Press is happy to provide books for consideration. The New Press’ examination copy policy is as follows:
• Paperback titles are available for examination for a $5 fee per book.
• Requests are limited to three titles per professor.
• Requests must be mailed on school letterhead or accompanied by a business card and include all relevant course information.
• Please allow up to four weeks for delivery.

DESK COPIES
The New Press provides complimentary copies of books assigned as required or recommended reading. Requests must be mailed in on school letterhead and include the course title and estimated enrollment. If letterhead is unavailable, business cards with this information are also acceptable.

The New Press
Academic Marketing
38 Greene Street, 4th floor
New York, NY 10013
www.thenewpress.com

ABOUT SECRET IDENTITIES:
SECRET IDENTITIES: THE ASIAN AMERICAN SUPERHERO ANTHOLOGY, from leading independent publisher The New Press, is available in bookstores and comic book specialty retailers everywhere. A regularly updated website (secretidentities.org) and blog (secretidentitiesbook.blogspot.com) feature weekly video teasers and exclusive behind-the-scenes news, interviews and character art from the book.

Among SECRET IDENTITIES’ creators are: Gene Yang (American Born Chinese), Bernard Chang (Wonder Woman), Greg Pak (The Hulk), Sonny Liew (Liquid City), Billy Tan (Secret Invasion), Dustin Nguyen (Detective Comics), Cliff Chiang (Green Arrow/Black Canary), Kazu Kibuishi (Flight), Greg LaRocque (The Flash), Christine Norrie (Black Canary Wedding Special), Tak Toyoshima (Secret Asian Man) and Francis Tsai (Heroes for Hire)—as well as new and established creators from film (directors Michael Kang, Ted Chung; actors Sung Kang, Leonardo Nam, Dustin T. Nguyen, Kelly Hu), television (Survivor‘s Yul Kwon, Gilmore GirlsKeiko Agena) and literature (author Jamie Ford, playwright Clarence Coo).

Mid-May Media Roundup

Since we’re in the middle of Asian American/Pacific Islander Heritage Month, it’s only fitting that our profile in the media has been raised a bit. Over the last few weeks, we’ve been all over the interwebz as the subject of various news orgs and websites.

Here are a few links to click through:

  • First, here’s a glowing review of the book on the film and fanboy hub, Ain’t It Cool News.
  • The Better Asian Man podcast interviewed Jerry, Parry and Keith.
  • Sequential Tart has a two-part piece on the book and our NYCC panel from February.
  • The Diamond BookShelf (my old stomping grounds) interviewed me for its May e-newsletter.
  • Jeff with John Hockenberry on PRI’s The Takeaway.
  • An interview with Parry in AsianWeek.
  • We’ve also gotten some attention internationally with a review in Japan’s biggest paper, the Daily Yomiuri.
  • And for those of you who can read Chinese, The World Journal ran a brief piece about the book.
  • Finally, the U.S. State Department profiled Secret Identities on its website, America.gov. The full transcript of the interview is available here.

Yes, you read that correctly. We’re on the State Department’s website. Secretary Hillary Clinton approves our message!