Q&A with DJ Kayper: “What Is a Girl to Do?”

DJ Kayper sepia1.jpg

She’s young, talented, cute, and smart. Serious about what she does, no ego, respects the roots of the music she loves. In short, she’s amazing, and sepia loves her.

>>burning envy<<

Seriously, though, it’s hard to hate DJ Kayper. She’s just too amazing. We squeed back in September, when Abhi blogged about her gig at the House of Blues in Houston. Taz and the rest of the beantown mutineers tried to catch her Boston show a few days later as the final touch on an fabulous night. Her skills are ridiculous, her taste is excellent, and she’s so low-key it’s always sort of exciting to get to know anything about her.

So of course I tried to get to know all about her. Recently fired off a batch of unconscionably inquisitive questions…and to my immeasurable delight, she answered them all! Even about being a DJ with breasteses!!

So let’s start with the obvious question — how did an Indian girl from Croydon get into hiphop?

I grew up during the golden era of hip hop and was influenced a lot by what my older brother was listening to. He listened to all types of music but in the early ’90s everyone was a fan of hip hop so that’s really how it all started for me. Continue reading

One Small Step Against Hate Crimes

On November 4th, the movie Vincent Who? will be making it’s Los Angeles premiere. This documentary was developed and produced by the folks over at Asian Pacific Americans for Progress, and if you are in Southern California I highly recommend that you come.

Over 25 years ago, the hate crime murder of Vincent Chin in Detroit galvanized the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. This new 40-minute documentary, winner of the Media Award from the National Association for Multicultural Education, looks back at the movement that started from the case and asks how far we have come and how far we still need to go.[apap]

The story of Vincent Chin’s horrible murder is an important historical event marking how hate crime policies developed for the APIA community. The movie traces the event and how little is remembered about this landmark case. Chin’s story is one that as South Asian Americans, we can all relate to. Every few months it seems another story of a hateful crime against a South Asian comes through the Sepia Mutiny bunker. It feels repetitive to write stories about hijabs getting pulled, brass knuckle beatings, or the murder of 26 yr. old Satendar Singh for being in a park. But these are the stories occurring in our community that deserve to be told.

Today also marked another historical landmark for hate crimes. After ten years of opposition and delay, President Obama signed the Matthew Shepard & James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

[The legislation makes] it a federal hate crime to assault people based on sexual orientation, gender and gender identity. The new measure expands the the scope of a 1968 law that applies to people attacked because of their race, religion or national origin. The U.S. Justice Department will have expanded authority to prosecute such crimes when local authorities don’t.[huffpost] Continue reading

Desi Lawyers Behaving Badly

To my fellow Desi wanna-be esquires:

Remember how in law school you had that “Litigation Basics” class the first semester of your first year? Think back. It was probably one of those half-semester pass/fail deals where you spent class time surfing the net instead of taking notes. (Or was that just me). At the beginning of the term, the professor passes out a little booklet that says “Rules of Professional Conduct.” It lays out the ethical duties of attorneys, basically what they can and cannot do while practicing in that state. It covers client confidentiality, conflict of interest issues, etc. If you haven’t read your copy lately, may I suggest a refresher may be in order? Especially that part about “conduct…which tends to…. bring the courts or the legal profession into disrepute” a.k.a known as asking your employees to have sex with you as part of their duties of employment. You think I jest?

Take Samir Zia Chowhan of Chowhan Law, an attorney practicing in Chicago, Illinois. Allegedly, one fine day, Mr. Chowdan decided his firm needed a secretary/legal assistant and where better to advertise than on the ‘Adult Gigs’ section of Craigslist? He posted a somewhat typical help-wanted ad.

Loop law firm looking to hire am [sic] energetic woman for their open secretary/legal assistant position. Duties will include general secretarial work, some paralegal work and additional duties for two lawyers in the firm. No experience required, training will be provided… If interested, please send current resume and a few pictures along with a description of your physical features, including measurements.

Measurements, eh? That’s a warning flag. Or is it? According to news sources, Ms. Debbie Dickinson, assuming the ad to be innocuous (?!?!) submits her resume, photo and measurements only to receive this reply. Continue reading

Pakistanis, Slackistanis & Gossip Girl

“No more news, please. No more news.” That’s been my early-morning refrain while checking news websites ever since 9/11. But inevitably, there is news from Pakistan. This past year, very few mornings have gone by without Americans waking up to read “Ten Taliban Members Killed in Pakistan” or “Militants Take Over Swat Valley, Close Girls’ Schools.” There is always news and it is always bad.

A new movie, Slackistan, wants to change that perception of Pakistan. Directed by British-based Hammad Khan, Slackistan is about a bunch of bored rich kids in Islamabad. And that’s it. That’s the plot. But that’s okay because they’re all hot. Oh yeah, and there’s probably an existential crisis or two thrown in for good measure. So basically your average American stoner movie sans the weed. At least that’s the impression I get. Watch the trailer for yourself and tell me if you see anything other than glamorous side-profiles of perturbed-looking young adults.

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Mira Nair’s Amelia Releases Today


Finally! The day I’ve been waiting for. TGIAED. Thank God It’s Amelia Earhart Day. Today marks the release of Mira Nair’s Amelia, a biopic on the record-breaking aviatrix herself. And the reviews are…not so great. (Washington Post calls it “historically safe and cinematically dull.”) Roger Ebert implies that this is because Earhart herself was a bit…boring.

That’s the trouble with Amelia Earhart’s life, seen strictly as movie material. What we already know is what we get. To repeat: She was strong, brave and true, she gained recognition for woman flyers, and she looked fabulous in a flight suit. She flew the Atlantic solo, she disappeared in the Pacific, she died too young, and there was no scandal or even an indiscretion. She didn’t even smoke, although Luckys wanted her for an endorsement.

But who cares if she was a prude? It’s Amelia Earhart, the girl crush from my childhood. The flying femme phantom of my fantasies! And Mira Nair! The one who made Denzel famous in Mississippi Masala, brought us Monsoon Wedding and finally gave Kal Penn a serious role in* The Namesake*. Okay, I’ll stop with the hyperbole. Continue reading

One Week in the Life of Salman Rushdie


Who needs to read a good novel when you can scrutinize the life of a fun-loving author? That’s right, you guessed it. Salman Rushdie is at his hijinks again. I was half-tempted to write a long, philosophical (totally hypocritical) post titled “An Open Letter to Sir Salman” that would poke snarky fun at this lothario, but I didn’t have the heart. After all, who are we to mock another’s romantic foibles? Well, that and the other part of me wanted to write a totally different post called “Choose me, Salman,” which touted my virtues over those of his former lady-loves. (Foremostly, I would never choose cooking over a wordsmith like Salman, mostly because I can’t cook.) Finally, I came upon the perfect way to update SM readers on Salman’s latest exploits. A timeline. Okay kids, now pretend you’re back in fifth-grade history class and let Teach lay it out for ya. After all, it’s Friday. You need your celebrity fix. Here’s how it goes down.

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Naveen Selvadurai & Foursquare


A little over a year ago, my social networking life was all but nonexistent. Like everyone else my age, I had a Facebook page left over from college. Other than the occasional stalk-in, er login, however, I rarely used my account. But overnight (it seems) everyone and their aunty joined Facebook. Before I knew it, I had second cousins from Pakistan who I’d never met trying to friend me and my mother calling me every morning to discuss my status. (“You were sick and you didn’t call me?”) Now Facebook is the first site I visit each morning. And after Facebook comes Twitter. (My name is ____________ and yes I do have an Interwebz addiction.) And now, I’m afraid I may just join Foursquare, a new social media site which has my friends abuzz. What is Foursquare you ask? Ever sat by yourself in a coffee shop? Wished a friend was close by and wanted to hang out? Didn’t feel like texting everyone in your phonebook? If you’d logged in to Foursquare, which was co-founded by Dennis Crowley and Naveen Selvadurai this past March, you would’ve known immediately who was around.

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$outh A$ian donor$ are $tepping up

Yes, I know. I apologize for the very annoying title of this post. I am sure a lot of you saw this article making the rounds this morning. It is about South Asian donors (Indian Americans in this case) stepping-up to donate to the candidates they support around the country. My cousin was one beneficiary of such donations:

On the last day of the third quarter, Democrat Manan Trivedi hosted a fundraiser for friends and family — his extended network of “Uncles and Aunties” — that raised $10,000 in two hours at the Lantern Lodge, an Indian-American-owned restaurant and hotel in southeastern Pennsylvania.

As one of three higher-profile Indian-American candidates running for Congress next year, Trivedi estimates that 20 percent to 25 percent of the $127,500 he raised in the first three weeks of his campaign for Pennsylvania’s 6th district open seat came from his connections to the Indian-American community. And he said he’s only begun to tap into the affluent ethnic network, which has recently become fertile fundraising ground. [Link]

Money from desis alone is never going to be enough, and it should never be the only place a candidate reaches out, but it sure as hell seems to make a difference. In this case it was the difference between being forced out of a race that had barely begun vs. the opportunity to gain momentum and endorsements after a strong initial fundraising total. The best example of the desi dollar coming close to enabling an upset was Ashwin Madia’s race last year in Minnesota:

After Iraq War Veteran Ashwin Madia (D) lost a competitive open-seat race in the 2008 cycle to now-Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.), it wasn’t clear when the next viable candidate would come along.

Madia raised about $2.4 million for his race. His fundraiser, Pandit, estimated that 25 percent to 30 percent of that money was from the Indian-American community.

Pandit said many Indian-Americans look to the Jewish community as their model for political activity.

“I think sort of emulating the Jewish community is what we’re doing right now,” Pandit said. “Our goal is where they are now, we’re aspiring to get where that community is. We don’t have the history of being in this country that a lot of Americans do.” [Link]

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iWatch you

Why I do I find this public service announcement by the City of Los Angeles so very very creepy? They use phrases like:

“…if you smell something suspicious”

“…let the experts decide”

It just seems to me like this type of appeal is much more suited for futuristic television set, say, in a movie like V for Vendetta or 1984 something. There is a good mix of minorities thrown in for good measure so that you know racial profiling won’t even be an issue. Well, if minority actors say it is ok then it must be.

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Desi vs. Desi on Wall Street

610x.jpgS. Mitra Kalita’s Wall Street Journal article, “Desi vs. Desi” frames the news of the largest hedge fund insider trading case in history as part of a broader story of desis immigrating to the United States, developing networks with other desis, and their progress in the technology and financial industries (desis might have found hedge funds to be more of a meritocracy than the “cozy world of investment banking”). Those industries are at the center of the allegations that billionaire founder of Galleon Group Raj Rajaratnam, conspired with director of consulting firm McKinsey & Co. Anil Kumar and Intel Capital’s Rajiv Goel, among other executives and hedge fund managers.

Media reports included coverage of the downward effect of Rajaratnam’s recent arrest on the Colombo Stock Exchange in Sri Lanka, where “even rumors of his trades can send the stock market up or down” and transcripts from wiretaps of the illegal conversations at issue. But “Desi vs. Desi” brings up another interesting angle on the story about the case’s prosecution. Continue reading