Los Desi Kung Fu Monkeys

Today’s #MusicMonday comes from Tijuana, Mexico via a tip from my friend Sasha. I’m surprised I’ve never heard of them, especially given that the band opened for Voo Doo Glow Skulls over the years. Los Kung Fu Monkeys is a ska band w/ two Pakistani brothers (Hassan and Tarek) that was formed in 1997, has six albums under their belt and has toured with Vans Warped Tour. AND, they sing bilingually in Spanish and English. Take a listen, what do you think?

To me, the sound is classically Southern Californian ska punk, with a little bit of tequila thrown in. I’m a sucker for punk covers (Me First and the Gimme Gimmes anyone?) and am really digging this Boys Don’t Cry cover. According to their facebook, they are working on their latest demo and have an international tour planned for early 2012. Follow Los Kung Fu Monkeys here on Facebook and on Twitter.

Also, I do realize there are South Asian diaspora migration stories of every kind, and I’m really curious as to how the Pakistani brothers ended up in Tijuana, Mexico. Is there a big South Asian population in Mexico? Anyone know?

McHindi: Sunday Photo

Ask not what Sepia Mutiny can do for you; ask what you can do for Sepia Mutiny! The picture above is courtesy of tipster Ashish, who ran after a bus to take this picture for us. As he notes, it is an ad in Hindi, for McDonald’s. It was on a SamTrans bus in Menlo Park this summer. I intended to put it up back when he originally sent it, because did I mention he ran after a bus for us? and also the picture is cool? but now it is cold and grey and I am glad to have just recalled this and to be posting it now, because among other things it is a nice reminder of summer and running and outdoor things. (I hope those of you on the East Coast have power and are warm and safe.)

Anyway. Hindi on the side of a bus in America, for the quintessential American fast food chain, which is now selling various South Asianish foodstuffs, by which I mean mangoes and coconuts are involved. If you have tasted any of these foodstuffs, please revert.

UPDATE: from the crowdsourcing on my FB wall—since I am not a Hindi speaker—this ad references pineapple-mango smoothies made from real fruit (the word “real” didn’t make it into the photo, so that part’s an educated guess). The ad further informs us that these smoothies are cooler than the month of August in San Francisco. Thanks to Aruni, Salil, Oindrila, Sucheta, Sumita, Zain! Oindrila offers this review of the smoothie, which she had several times this summer: “It was too much pineapple and not enough mango imo. I like my exotic cliched fruit.”

AAWW Award Winner Amitava Kumar: “I Want to Portray How Messed Up the World Is.”

Photo Credit: Preston Merchant

I love me a good book. But even more than that, I love me a good literary festival featuring some of my favorite authors. Tonight kicks off Page Starter 2011, the Asian American Literary Festival’s third annual event. The event, which concludes tomorrow, features literary darlings such as Junot Diaz and Teju Cole. And even more exciting for Sepia Mutiny, our very own Amitava Kumar will be honored as the winner of the Asian American Literary award for nonfiction for his book, A Foreigner Carrying in the Crook of His Arm a Tiny Bomb. To celebrate, we turned the tables on this SM blogger and asked him some questions for a change.

What surprised you about the response to your last book, A Foreigner Carrying in the Crook of His Arm a Tiny Bomb?

That it won a prize?

No, actually, now that you ask, let me unburden myself. At the New York launch of the book, an academic friend, very political, a proper hater of the FBI, walked out after I had said something about how exasperating I had found talking to one of my subjects, someone who was convicted of terrorism. Was the man guilty of everything the government had charged? No. Was he a pathetic liar? Yes. Couldn’t both facts coexist?

Academics, so many of them, demand such purity! I hate it. As a writer, I want to portray how messed-up the world is. Also, if I could add: As a writer, I am so messed-up, and I don’t want to hide that either. Continue reading

Pakistani Politi-Pop from Beygairat Brigade

The trio of young men from Lahore, Pakistan, in the pop group Beygairat Brigade (The Dishonor Brigade) seem to be singing a catchy little ditty in Punjabi complaining about their mom making potatoes and eggs when they really want to have chicken. But those are just the opening lines of their first song Aalu Anday–the lyrics appear in English subtitles. Before the video’s three minutes are up, the group has covered many topics that pack a political punch.

Dawn’s cultural critic and senior columnist Nadeem Paracha offers details on a few of the many references contained in the lyrics of Aalu Anday.

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Is Chippy Nonstop Swag?

I’m slipping in a #MusicMonday in right at the last minute – because Tasneem hit me up on gchat with a (crude) gem of an Oakland artistChippy Nonstop. She’s named Chippy cuz she likes to eat chips, no kidding. And she’s Desi. She’s like a Desi-fied version of Kreayshawn meets Peaches.

I kind of the dug the sound above. Then I started finding her other videos. And then, well… I’ll let you be the judge of that. Here’s her latest with Andy Milonakis. And since it’s with Milonakis, you better know it’s NSFW.

And then there’s this video. With the Desi languag-ed hook and the (overused) multi-handed dance move. Continue reading

Arun Gupta and The Occupied Wall Street Journal: Desis at Occupy Wall Street, Pt. 4

(h/t @vetoshield for Tweeting this video)

Speaking of desis at Occupy Wall Street, last week I chatted with Arun Gupta, one of the founders of the Occupied Wall Street Journal. Gupta, who talked with me on the phone from a road trip to visit different sites of protest, has been working with newspapers off and on for the past two decades, and writes for publications like AlterNet and Al Jazeera. He’s also been with the Indypendent for the past 11 years. He told me about making the first issue of the Occupied Wall Street Journal happen in under 24 hours.

(Time-sensitive note for New Yorkers: If you want to hear more from Gupta, The New Yorkers editor, David Remnick, is moderating a discussion about OWS tonight at Florence Gould Hall in NYC. 7 p.m. In addition to Gupta, the event features NYer staff writers John Cassidy and Jill Lepore, as well as former NY governor Eliot Spitzer. Online tickets are gone, but a limited number of free tickets will be available at the door.) And a BONUS read via Sonny Singh: Manissa McCleave Maharawal in conversation with Eliot Spitzer about OWS in NYMag, here. I blogged about Manissa earlier in this series.)

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White House Recognizes Vijaya Emani

Yesterday the President presented 13 Americans with the 2011 Presidential Citizens Medal, the nation’s second-highest civilian honor which may be granted to any United States citizen who has performed “exemplary deeds or services for his or her country or fellow citizens.” Vijaya Emani of Strongsville, Ohio, a single mom involved in so many different ways in her community, was one of the honorees. Emani, who passed away in 2009, was recognized for speaking out against domestic violence.

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Maharajas, maharanis and more

Today marks the start of a new exhibit at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco,  Maharaja: The Splendor of India’s Royal Courts running until April 8, 2012. The museum’s assistant curator of South Asian art Qamar Adamjee writes that the exhibit is more than a chance to look at beautiful objects.

The two principal narrative arcs around which the exhibition is organized bring to life the complex and fascinating worlds of India’s great kings. They help us to understand the real people behind the objects that were made for them. The first goes behind the scenes to analyze the roles and qualities of kingship in India. The second traces the ways the institution of kingship shifted against a rapidly changing political and historical backdrop from the early eighteenth century through the 1930s, a period that saw a change in the maharajas’ status from independent rulers to “native princes” under British colonial rule.–Decoding Images of Maharajas

The exhibit is free this Sunday, October 23, when the museum will also offer a family fun day. In the process of rebranding the Asian Art museum has taken on a new logo, an upside down A (a symbol with a meaning of “for all” in mathematics) in a move to be more inclusive.

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Gill grows campaign cash stash

You may remember Ranjit “Ricky” Gill, the young candidate who in May announced his run for Congress as the Republican candidate for California’s 9th district against incumbent Democrat Jerry McNerney. The third-year law student will be eligible to serve in Congress when he turns 25 a month before the primaries next June, and he’s keeping busy in the meantime. His campaign told the San Francisco Chronicle that it has already raised $725,000, more than almost every non-incumbent Republican candidate in the nation.

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‘It Was So Important That We Were All Together’: Desis at Occupy Wall St., Pt. 3

If you go to Zuccotti Park at 4 a.m., you will see them: a contingent from Occupy Wall Street’s People of Color (POC) working group, standing with others who are banding together to protect protestors from a city effort to clean up the space—widely viewed as a coded way to shut down OWS. Continue reading