Justin Chon’s “Gook” opens nationwide this weekend. I’ll be moderating the Q&A at the Saturday night screening in Berkeley. Come out and support!
I wanted to share a few photos I took in early April when I drove to Manzanar National Historic Site, the former internment camp where Japanese Americans were incarcerated, to write this essay for NPR.
1) Vacancy sign in Cartago, CA along U.S. Route 395. I had to drive the southern route from San Francisco because the northern route was impassable due to a storm. This added two hours to the drive. (Total drive time: about eight hours). 2) Recreation of a guard tower at Manzanar. There had been eight. 3) The remains of what was once a garden at Manzanar. Residents built gardens to make camp life feel a little more normal. 4) Offerings by the Manzanar cemetery and monument. 5) The post office in Independence, CA, the closest inhabited area to Manzanar, about six miles north.
Catapult published my personal essay, To Swim is to Endure, about my relationship to swimming and how it helps me get through chronic headaches and writer’s block. This essay has been many months in the making. Though part of me is wary of putting something so personal out in the world, I’m thrilled to be in Catapult. If you don’t know it, be sure to spend some time on there. The site is full of great writing.
Art by Ellen Orseck / Image via brad, flickr
After a decade-long break from journalism, I returned to the field and realized that I needed a better-looking online portfolio. I’ve been keeping links to my writing clips on this website, but it’s rather text heavy. I tried adding one image per story, but the page looked rather disorganized since it’s essentially an article format with images and story descriptions piled up vertically one after the other. So, I explored portfolio sites out there for writers and journalists. (UPDATE: I’ve since figured out how to make a more visually-appealing portfolio in WordPress, which is what my site is built in, but the portfolio sites are easier to use.)
What I looked for:
- clean and organized look
- easy for the reader to navigate
- easy to use on the account or dashboard end
- looks good on mobile
- the ability to organize content by sections (say, by type of writing or by topic)
The portfolio sites I considered:
For all the sites, you can add a clip by simply entering its URL. The sites do all the work for you, grabbing the headline, an excerpt, and an image for you. (Some do a better job at this than others. I found myself having to upload images for some clips.) All of them have editable fields in case you want to change the text or upload a different image. For stories that don’t live online, you can also upload PDFs. All of these sites also have spots for your social media handles.
At first I tried to get away with just looking at existing samples of these sites. But I realized that in order to truly understand how they worked, I had to sign up so I could experience it myself first hand.
APEX Express on KPFA-FM aired a story of mine about an art show in San Francisco Chinatown that explores the history of the neighborhood through food. The photo exhibit commemorates classic eateries that have been operating for 40 years or more. My segment begins at 39:00.
Here are a few photos I took while reporting this story. The photo above is of the exhibit, “Eat Chinatown,” at 41 Ross. Below: popular dishes at Capital Restaurant, the interior of Eastern Bakery, and the bakery’s dan tats.
Five years ago, I started making cards to send to friends for the lunar new year. I started in 2013, Year of the Snake, cutting snakes by hand out of colorful, patterned scrap paper.
As my mailing list grew, it became unrealistic to make each card by hand. So in the Year of the Horse, I decided to draw something and send it off to a printer. By draw, I mean stick figures. Over the years, I’ve learned what kind of paper stock I should print on (not uncoated matte stock, which gets beat up in the mail) and I picked up a small water color kit too.
I’ve been a guest producer on APEX Express, which airs on KPFA-FM. Here’s a few stories I’ve contributed lately.
Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus has started a new fellowship for formerly incarcerated Asian Pacific Islanders named after the late activist Yuri Kochiyama. I interview one of the fellows about her experience in the prison and immigration systems, and why she’s advocating against charging youth as adults. Listen to the story here.
A new print magazine called Illustoria launched this fall. With a focus on storytelling, the magazine targets children 6 to 12 and their grownups. I interviewed Joanne Chan, the publisher and editor of Illustoria. Listen to the story here.
Photo by Melissa Kaseman
I have a guest post on Angry Asian Man about Dansk cookie tins as storage, hoarding napkins, and other things that might be familiar to you if you were raised by immigrant parents.
Photo above by Alfred Cervantes of the Houston Film Commission
Thank you to everyone who made it out to this year’s Bold Asian American Images screening of short films in Houston. It’s been four years since I’ve curated this program for the Aurora Picture Show and it was wonderful to be back.
I had not been to Aurora Picture Show’s new space (Well, new to me. They moved in 2012.) and was glad to see that the organization has a home after being nomadic for five years. The screening included works by Leena Pendarkar, Nina Yuen, Laura Hyunjhee Kim, R.J. Lozada, Tony Nguyen, and Faroukh Virani.
After a four-year hiatus, I’ll be returning to the Aurora Picture Show with Bold Asian American Images. The 12th installment of this program showcases an eclectic mix of short films curated by yours truly. The program has narrative, experimental, video art, sci-fi, and documentary works. Almost all of these films will be making their Texas premieres. I’ll be there in person with two filmmakers, Faroukh Virani and Tony Nguyen.
In Faroukh’s film “Vimana,” three Indian astronauts are on their way to a distant planet when the captain dies. The two remaining astronauts must complete the journey in his memory.
Tony Nguyen documents his refugee family’s experience adapting to life in America in “Giap’s Last Day at the Ironing Board Factory.” In this documentary, Tony goes back to a small town in Indiana to film his mother’s retirement after nearly 35 years working at the last ironing board factory in America.
I hope those of you in Houston will be able to join us for this and other films.
Bold Asian American Images
Saturday, September 26, 2015, 7 p.m.
Curator Melissa Hung and Filmmakers Tony Nguyen and Faroukh Virani in Attendance
Aurora Members Free, Non-Members $10 (Click here for tickets)
Behind the Screens Member Event 6 p.m.
Members are invited to arrive early and have time to chat with the curator and filmmakers.
Laura Hyunjhee Kim / R.J. Lozada / Tony Nguyen / Leena Pendarkar / Faroukh Virani / Nina Yuen
Image from “Moving to the Cloud” by Laura Hyunjhee Kim