Monthly Archives: October 2010

concert review: margaret cho @ salle wilfrid-pelletier, oct. 23

posted by jroselkim

On Saturday night, Margaret Cho stopped by Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier in Montreal, as part of her new tour, Cho Dependent, delighting the crowd with her dynamic delivery and dirty jokes.

Brooklyn-based comic John Roberts opened the show – frankly, this was the only part of the show I did not love. His “routine” didn’t exactly contain a “routine” at all – but rather, a series of wigs and caricatures, including a vapid blond girl, his mother, a “granola” lesbian at a women’s fest, and a straight male actor on cop shows. While some characters were hilarious – the granola lesbian writing a poem about her vagina got many laughs – his dependence on the wigs to transform from one character to another felt a bit hollow and lacking substance.

Since the tour was named after her new album, I expected to see a bit more of musical content. However, the show featured classic stand-up material, with only three songs performed live. Though her comedy has gotten more political over the years, last night’s show felt more like classic Cho, save for the part when she discussed gay teen suicides and Prop 8. For those of you unfamiliar with Cho’s comedy, “classic Cho” is a blend of three things: sex, shit, and her mother.

Shit dominated the beginning of Cho’s routine, as she confessed the undesirable side effects of guzzling olive oil before her performances to enhance her vocal chops: spraying olive oil everywhere through the rear. Cho took this disgustingly funny bit to the next level by musing that she could now work at Olive Garden (“would you like some dressing with that salad? At Olive Garden, we’re family.”). Later on, Cho recalled the opposite problem of being unable to pass anything through her rectum as she reminisced about her recent adventures at Bonnaroo music festival, where the port-a-potty ubiquity prevented her from normal shits, and the inevitable reality of giving up and “merging” one’s shit with others.

Nothing was off-limits or too dirty for Cho, as I heard about balls slapping hard on your neck (after all the discussion of shit), to putting a penis and balls in your mouth at the same time, and describing her pussy as the “Hurt Locker” because it’s been around so much.

There were also oddly sobering moments full of pathos, like when Cho shared the chilling fact about her ex-lover bludgeoning his wife to death. Cho also revealed that this was the inspiration for her song “Sorry,” which she performed live for the audience afterwards. This was the only song she performed from Cho Dependent on Saturday night.

I admit, I was curious about the quality of her live singing voice; her voice sounds pretty much perfect on the record that I wondered if she could replicate the same quality onstage. I’m happy to report that her singing was pretty great live. She even picked up the guitar that was sitting onstage all night for her encore – an untitled song (not a part of her album) about being in a long-term relationship and having no sexual desire (“I hate fucking you, baby”).

And of course, Cho’s mom made ample appearances this time around, from being amazed at her daughter’s ability to “move so fast” on rehearsing for Dancing with the Stars, and a performance of “My Puss” (along with John Roberts’s “mom”) in a flashy bomber jacket.

Part of Cho’s comedic genius is her commitment to the disgusting nature of her material, including the kind of incredible (and incredibly ugly) faces she makes, such as a quadruple chin she donned as her “mother.” These are some moments that are more magical when you see them live. If there’s one person that transforms disgusting into magical, it’s Cho.

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what separates us from omar khadr?

posted by djtrishna

Today is a big day for Toronto.

I’m not talking about the election.

I’m talking about the 3013th day that we have been without our brother Omar Khadr.

Omar, a Toronto kid like myself, has been held at Guantanamo Bay since he was 15. The Omar Khadr case has been widely publicized, as he is not only Guantanamo Bay’s youngest detainee, but also the only Canadian to ever be held at the facility.

The case has also received media attention because of the extreme injustices Omar has faced. He was held for three years before ever being charged and for two years without access to legal counsel. He was subject to inhumane conditions including physical and psychological abuse as well as torture. Additionally, he is the first child soldier in modern history to be prosecuted for alleged war crimes.

Today, Omar accepted a plea bargain, pleading guilty to five separate charges including murder after spending a third of his life in Guantanamo Bay. This means that Omar will spend one more year in Guantanamo after which he may have the opportunity to return to Canada.

Thus far, our Prime Minister has demonstrated no interest in repatriating Omar. He has consistently avoided commenting on the case claiming that it is up to the U.S. to decide, despite our Supreme Court ruling that Omar’s rights have been violated and our Federal Court ordering Ottawa to pursue his repatriation.

But Harper’s silence speaks volumes.

It demonstrates the unwillingness of our government to stand up for one of our own children, one of our brothers. It clarifies our government’s feelings towards specifically racialized populations. I am of course talking about Arabs and Muslims and those of us who are racialized  alongside them in the big web of racism.

What I’m getting at here is that if Omar, a 15 year old Toronto kid, could be tried in U.S. military court for war crimes after being held at Guantanamo for 8 years, without ANY intervention on the part of our government, what makes any of us safe? What kind of justice system are we upholding? Isn’t this case terrifying? Does it not uncover the fallacy of Canada as a model ‘multicultural’ state?

Toronto is missing a child, a brother, and a friend. He is one of many missing people whom the government is eager to silence. Their lack of commentary on this issue is extremely unjust, but not uncommon. It is evident in the face of hundreds of missing and murdered Indigenous women. It is evident in their increasing criminalization of dissent, of being poor, of being brown, of being queer, or being anything but ‘normal’. And this criminalization has been normalized. How else can we explain what is happening to Alex Hundert and the other G20 detainees? How else can such disregard for our stolen sisters persist?

We cannot simply remain silent. We must demand for Omar’s return home. Just as we must demand for inquiry into the cases of our stolen sisters and for the charges against Alex and the other G20 defendants to be dropped.





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let’s talk about racism

posted by jroselkim

A while ago I had a great discussion in the comment section of one of the posts by Celine about whether people of colour can be racist – or more precisely, what we mean when we utter the word “racism.” I put the question in the back burner as life got busy, but recently I had a chance to discuss this again with another person. So I ask you, readers: to whom does the word “racism” apply?

I leave you with an excerpt from Beverly Daniel Tatum’s Defining Racism: “Can We Talk?”

Of Course, people of any racial group can hold hateful attitudes and behave in racially discriminatory and bigoted ways. We can all cite examples of horrible hate crimes which have been perpetuated by people of color as well as Whites. Hateful behavior is hateful behavior no matter who does it. But when I am asked, “Can people of color be racist?” I reply, “The answer depends on your definition of racism.” If one defines racism as racial prejudice, the answer is yes. However, if one defines racism as a system of advantage based on race, the answer is no. People of color are not racist because they do not systemically benefit from racism. And equally important, there is no systematic cultural and institutional support or sanction for racial bigotry of people of color. In my view, reserving the term racist only for behaviors committed by Whites in the context of a White-dominated society is a way of acknowledging an ever-present power differential afforded Whites by the culture and institutions that make up the system of advantage and continue to reinforce notions of White superiority.

(thanks to the awesome tumblr “Smash the White Supremacist Capitalist Patriarchy” for bringing the excerpt to my attention)


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win margaret cho’s t.o. concert tickets!

posted by jroselkim

Dear Toronto invazn readers,

do you want to win two tickets to see Margaret Cho this Friday (Oct. 22) at Massey Hall? Then click here for the details. Oh, and you can read my short preview gushing about how much I love her too, but that’s just a minor detail. Feel free to check out other awesome Asian-Canadian news and features at Schema Magazine while you’re there as well.

She plays in Montreal on Oct. 23 at Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier, by the way. I’ll be there – let me know if you will be, too.

[Photo from]

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why i can’t be an actress

posted by ellephanta/Celine

I told my mother that I wanted to be an actress a long time ago, and she said, I support you no matter what you do, but here are two things about it you should consider before making that decision and pursuing it.

1. A woman’s beauty is prone to constant decay in the eyes of the society, and this is extremely the case when it comes to show business, which is aggressively superficial. It wants a specific kind of beauty and as a result, my professional career will depend entirely on the judgment of others. Intelligence and wisdom, however, knows no gender and it is certain and relatively within your control. It doesn’t decay with time, it only deepens and widens, and it is certainly a better horse to bet on.

2. Being a colored person, you will not get the title roles. You will get to be the title character’s best friend or brief love interest. If you do get a role, you will often be expected to discuss your identity as a racial minority, either insultingly vaguely or painfully in depth. It will be used against you everywhere. This is painfully wrong, but it will happen because show business is a place run by people who will do that to a colored person, for an audience that will eat it up exactly as is and demand more of the same. If it’s hard to make it as an actress, it is unimaginably harder to be a colored actress.

This was really painful to hear, not because I was that invested in wanting to be an actress (I had basically wanted to be everything in those days, from a teacher to a rock star) but because I realized in my young age that the North American promise of “endless opportunities and infinite possibilities” was a gross exaggeration.

There is a reason why there aren’t enough Azn/colored people in the media, why there are so few out there for the casting directors to hire (“well, bring me a sexy Azn girl who’s right for the role, we’ll hire her for sure!”). It’s because most casting directors don’t want them.

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an open letter to profs who ‘include’ diversity week

posted by djtrishna

Dear Educators,

I understand that you are well intentioned. That you have degrees and have studied for years and have worked hard to become an expert in your field. I know that you want to create a classroom experience that is enriching and really makes us students think. That you want us all to be included (sometimes).

But please, seriously, take the fucking ‘diversity’ week out of your fucking curriculum. It would save students of colour from enduring the pain of having our identities put on trial, having our experiences questioned and our realities of racism denied. It would save Indigenous peoples from being invisibilized.

Not only are you miseducating large groups of white students, you are attacking us while we sit here. If diversity week is about teaching white kids how to interact with us, which it is, then please, just be explicit in that so that WE DO NOT SIT THROUGH IT.

It’s not just offensive, it’s plain fucked up. As if you can have a WEEK on ‘diversity’ and expect for us to have an enriching fucking experience. The only thing you’ve enriched me to is that DIVERSITY WEEK IS FRIGGING TOKENIZING.

Especially if your field ISN’T IN RACE STUDIES (and sometimes even if it is), STAY THE FUCK AWAY FROM EDUCATING OTHERS ABOUT RACE.

It would save me from ripping out my hair.



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i’m not azn enough for azns: a rant

posted by flipette

“Thanks so much for writing to us, and for your interest in the project! Unfortunately, we are focusing (for the book) on women of South and East Asian background, as opposed to Southeast Asian.”

Here we go again. Not Azn enough for Azns. Again. Filipina…not Azn. Why, I ask? She answers,

“I’m interested in writing about renegotiation of values between cultures. If you check out the blog you can see what kind of stories I’m talking about.”

That’s not really a fucking  answer but off to the blog I go…again. Here’s the rundown:

1) Immigrant parents influence and demand over choice of a partner, career, freedom

Oh, you mean that time my father demanded why I dropped out of my sciences and math. “You can’t change the world,” he told me. He turned out to be right. But I still stayed out of math and sciences.

Or maybe it was the assumption that my partner would be a man. Or Filipino. At least (or better yet) white. The end.

2) How the above statement affects young Azn diasporic women

Do  you mean the fear of coming out to my parents? Telling them that they had, not one, but two queer daughters. And that my partner was genderqueer. And shorter than me.

Do you mean the constant nagging feeling of making my parents proud? Making sure that I made the right decisions so Icouldgetagoodjobbehappybeabletotakecareofthemintheiroldageandmostofallbeself

3) Relationship to feminism

Does my constant need to create space for people of colour in a movement that has been recognized as so overwhelmingly white count? Or maybe I can talk about how this white liberal feminism is something that I face in everyday community organizing and how painful it is to meet feminists who don’t think race is the issue. Most importantly, how meeting badass, unapologetic and angry feminists of colour reminds me that my feminism isn’t defined by white women and those that hide behind being colourblind can get the fuck out.

4) Relationship to family

Can I talk about my love for my family even though they can be so difficult sometimes? About how everyone gossips but can still sit around at the dinner table and laugh so hard it hurts. About how family doesn’t mean siblings and parents, but grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and their partners and families and friends. How everyone remains involved in my life much to my dismay/joy.

Are these the criteria? Have I met them? Are my answers Azn enough? Or maybe I could talk more about histories of colonialism and modern-day imperialism. About racism within my “tolerant” nation of Canada. About homophobia and sexism within my family and home. How losing the language that expresses more things that I could ever dare with my English tongue pains me in unimaginable ways? Or what it’s like to long for a history of a home that’s too expensive to even visit? Or listening to people talk about women from my country as if they were second-rate and only good for one type of labour? How being so often assumed to be docile, nice and obedient makes me think that smashing windows and throwing things at people are brilliant fucking ideas?

Is that Azn enough for you? Because it’s sure as hell as Azn as I’m ever gonna be.

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dinner table conversation

posted by missmsian

I had dinner with my little (14-year-old) brother and two of his (Malaysian and Chinese) friends tonight. Here’s the scene …

Me, Bro, Friend 1 and Friend 2 are eating pizza. Friend 2 is channel surfing and lands on program called “The Elephant Princess.” The four watch the opening credits.

Me: Is she supposed to be … South … Asian … ?

Friend 1: Naw, she’s a white girl who discovers she’s the leader of this magical kingdom in India or something.

Bro: I watched one episode. It’s so stupid.

Friend 1: I don’t even need to watch one episode to know it’s stupid.

Friend 2: Yeah, it’s just really cliche.

Me: Oh, you mean it reminds you of other shows with a “white saviour” complex where white people are put in leadership positions over people of colour because it’s assumed people of colour are incapable of leading themselves?

Three blank stares. Mum enters the room.

Mum: You mean Avatar?

Bro: This show is stupid. Let’s just watch “The Amazing Race.” Team Jumba all the way!

Friend 2: What’s “The Amazing Race”? Wait, you mean kevjumba is on this show?

Friend 1: Yeah, man. Dude, you need to watch more TV.

Friend 2: They actually put Azns in this show?!

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an open letter to The Walrus: on why “chinaman” jokes are not acceptable

posted by jroselkim

Dear Editors of The Walrus,

I was really enjoying reading Noah Richler’s feature “My Dad, the Movie, and Me” until an unexpected racist joke hit me like a ton of bricks towards the end of the piece. Mr. Richler describes a conversation he has with his best friend, who tells what Mr. Richler describes as “his signature punster’s bad jokes.”

“Noah, when does a Chinaman go to the dentist?” he asked.

“I dunno, pal. When?”

“Tooth-hurty.” (p.48)

Mr. Richler states that this “joke” occurred after his father’s death, so I can safely say this happened sometime after 2001. Little did I know that “a Chinaman” was still used as a “funny” term in the 21st century. I was also unaware that we were still okay with making jokes about the hilarious ways that Asian people speak. Because those Asian people, they just can’t speak English correctly, no matter how long they’ve been living here, right? And those silly Chinamen – many of whom worked under terrible conditions to build our railways – they still deserve those awesomely bad puns after all these years, don’t they?

I’m not sure if that qualifier “bad” Mr. Richler uses in the piece sufficiently describes the kind of offensive attitude his friend exhibited. Do we still live in a society where we make bad puns about the “others” and print them without thinking twice? Frankly, I am equally appalled that the editors and the copy editors at The Walrus let this joke pass on to the public (many of whom are – inevitably – of Asian origin). It makes me feel ashamed to be subscribing to a magazine (which prides itself in serious, in-depth journalism) that is in fact so blind to a hurtful racial stereotype.


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niqabitches: yay or nay?

posted by missmsian

Two French women–self-dubbed “niqabitches”–filmed themselves walking around Paris wearing niqab, short-shorts and black heels to protest the country’s recent decision to ban the burqa and niqab. The rationale for the ban is that these articles of clothing apparently oppress women and having old white men tell women what they can or can’t wear is liberating. Right.

The women, one of whom identifies as Muslim, wrote an op-ed about why they chose to film the video (sorry anglos, this one’s in French … English coverage here.)

The authors of Muslimah Media Watch weighed in with some insightful commentary.

So, what do you think?

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