Asian Press in U.S. Defies Stereotypes

An update from the Utne stacks by librarian Chris Dodge

| September/October 2001

Model minority. Exotic and submissive women. Math and computer prodigies. Martial arts excellence. Stereotypes about Asian Americans linger even though their numbers in this country have grown from 1.5 million to 11.5 million over the past 30 years. With the dozens of Asian American newspapers and magazines published today, the range and richness of Asian American culture is anything but inscrutable. The mainstream tabloid AsianWeek (809 Sacramento St., San Francisco, CA 94108; $29; www.asianweek.com), which declares itself "the voice of Asian America," contains a broad mix of news, profiles, and reviews. Regular readers know about the contemporary Asian American civil rights movement, for example, and the fact that anti-Asian land laws still despoil the state constitutions of Florida and New Mexico.
XFONT Talk to Chris Dodge, Street Librarian in the Media forum at Café Utne's: cafe.utne.com
Similarly established, the upscale monthly A Magazine ("Inside Asian America"; Box 6007, Duluth, MN 55806; $15/6 issues; www.aonline.com) is more stylish than substantial (cars, fashion, horoscopes), but most issues feature something thought-provoking. One recent edition included interviews with mixed-race Asians and an Asian American political survey. As glossy, but more engaging, Giant Robot ("Asian pop culture and be-yond"; Box 642053, Los Angeles, CA 90064; $15/4 issues; www.giantrobot .com) targets an audience that prizes Hong Kong videos, arcade games, comics, and Hello Kitty tchotchkes. Turn here for a high-energy, high-testosterone mix: irreverent taste tests of Asian beverages and snack foods, interviews with martial artists, and even a profile of the guy who manufactures "Red Cock Hot Sauce." There’s nothing commercial about Bamboo Girl (Box 507, New York, NY 10159; www.bamboogirl.com), a kick-ass multisubcultural zine focusing on Filipino culture, filtered and or-ganized by the ardently feminist sensibility of its editor, a queer-but-married Filipina mestiza. With artist interviews, rants about creative things to do when you’re harassed on the street, and extensive resource listings, it’s always vibrant. Dozens of other excellent zines and comics are published by Asian Americans. Some have moved from paper to Web; Slander (http://worsethanqueer .com/slander) is one. Written by Vietnam-born "disaffected grrrl punk rocker" and Ph.D. candidate Mimi Nguyen, the Web site examines the politics of gender and colonization in prose that blends academic jargon with no-bullshit straight talk. Other publications worth noting: the scholarly Amerasia Journal (UCLA Asian American Studies Center, 3230 Campbell Hall, Box 951546, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1546; $35; http://www.sscnet.ucla.edu/aasc /rdp2/index.html); Indian American monthly India Currents (Box 21285, San Jose, CA 95151; $19.95; www.indiacurrents.com); monthly KoreAm Journal, a forum for English-speaking Korean Americans (17813 S. Main St., #112, Gardena, CA 90248; $28; www.koreamjournal.com); and Korean Quarterly, which focuses on Korean adoptees and their parents (P.O. Box 6789, St. Paul, MN 55106; $15; www.koreanquarterly.org). This Just In Produced infrequently by writer/ artist twin sister duo Amber Gayle and Stacy Wakefield, My Evil Twin Sister (Box 1318, Cooper Station, New York, NY 10276; $5; www.eviltwinpublications.com) is worth the wait. Issue #3 (1997) was a 156-page novella about a young woman’s travels and romance in Germany (titled Ramble Right). Now #4 has appeared: Notta Lotta Love Stories is a compendium of Amber’s personal stories about affairs of the heart and loins. By day Stacy is art director of Index magazine. The Charles H. Kerr Publishing Company (1740 W. Greenleaf Ave., Chicago, IL 60626; www.kerrpubco.org), founded in 1886, specializes in books on radicalism and labor history, many of them straight from the source (The Autobiography of Mother Jones, for one). The worker-owned cooperative has recently launched a Web site and published three new titles, including Frank Beck’s Hobohemia: Emma Goldman, Lucy Parsons, Ben Reitman & Other Agitators and Outsiders in 1920s/30s Chicago. Recumbent Cyclist News (Box 2048, Port Townsend, WA 98368; $40; www.recumbentcyclistnews.com) is new to me, though the magazine has been around since 1990. If you’ve wondered about those funny-looking low-to-ground bikes, here’s your source for more info, from riding tips to road tests. Two-time Alternative Press Award nominee Crone Chronicles ("A journal of conscious aging") ceased print publication with Spring 2001, but continues online (www.cronechronicles.com). Cited in this year’s "Top Ten Censored Stories" by Project Censored, Dendron—a magazine for human rights in mental health—is now titled MindFreedom Journal (Support Coalition International, Box 11284, Eugene, OR 97440; $20; www.MindFreedom.org).

Talk to Chris Dodge, Street Librarian, in the Media forum at Cafe Utne: cafe.utne.com