About Taz

Taz is an activist, organizer and writer based in California. She is the founder of South Asian American Voting Youth (SAAVY), curates MutinousMindState.tumblr.com and blogs at TazzyStar.blogspot.com. Follow her at twitter.com/tazzystar

Taz’s Top Ten and Thanks

How do I say good-bye to a site that gave me space to explore my identity with words, gave me the training grounds to build community virtually, and allowed me the opportunity to influence political and advocacy issues affecting the South Asian community? How do I say good-bye to a site that allowed me to build so many real friendships with so many of you? I never would have imagined that when my mother passed away so suddenly nine months ago, that a large percentage of people that reached out were people who found me through this blog and remembered stories I had written referencing her. I never really  understood the power of words this community held until those dark moments.

These past few weeks I’ve been grappling with exactly what Sepia Mutiny has meant to me in the past six years I’ve written for the site and have been playing musical montages in my head of my favorite moments. Six years – longer than any job or relationship I’ve ever had. This site provided a much needed space to dialogue and develop the South Asian American identity and, in many ways, set the benchmark with how the community voiced ourselves. I always approached blogging on this site with three things in mind – 1) write about the Desi-American experience, the narrative I was yearning for, 2) a 1:1 ratio of pop to politics posts, and 3) find the marginalized Desis and give them space. And of course – the self pep talk before every remotely Muslim post - “Fuck all the trolling Islamophobic haters – as long as they’re commenting, there’s an important reason to keep blogging.” There was always that.

To commemorate – let’s list, shall we? So here we go. My top ten most influential moments here in the Sepia Mutiny bunkers…

1. Sepia Destiny: Oh, the trials and tribulations of being a single Desi girl with dating woes and having it all laid out in blogs. Remember the Dating While Desi rules? And wondering if Dating While Desi Bradley Effect of if Obama would increase the dating pool? These posts were our most commented on the site and clearly a very important issue to many of us. Though we always had high hopes of setting up a Sepia Destiny dating tab, it never came to fruition. Luckily, many of you didn’t wait for the tab to find SM love, myself included. Thank you, Sepia Mutiny for making dating life all that much more thrilling.

2. Gaza: Is Palestine a Desi issue? To me, the connection was immediate – but how to write about it? I hit the streets for the protests, interviewing every Desi person I saw and did it again at the rally in front of the Israel Embassy after the flotilla’s were attacked. In an American world where USINPAC and AIPAC are working in coordination to promote an Indian-Israeli alliance at the Capitol – I found it even more important to push this counter-narrative out there on SM’s pages. Especially after this Bollywood dancing missile promo video. Vijay Prashad’s Uncle Swami book coming out in June has a detailed analysis, but sadly my book review won’t be on these pages.

3. Ami Bera: He folded in to returning $250 of donations from CAIR-Sacramento Executive Director, thanks to pressure from his opponent Dan Lungren during the 2010 elections. My blog post sparked an interesting dialogue between readers, donors and the candidate himself - and even led to his having to return donations from people wanting their money back. Ami Bera is at it again, running in this fall’s election. But this time his race is highly supported by the Democratic Party big shots. Let’s just hope he doesn’t fold to Lungren again. Continue reading

Top Ten Mutinous Music Moments

When I was a rebellious little punk teenager, the only Brown I saw on stage at shows was Tony Kanal playing bass in No Doubt. And he was dating bindi wearing Gwen Stefani, who was by far the coolest rock chick ever. It wasn’t until I stumbled upon Sepia Mutiny as a reader that I noticed other punk, alterno, progressive musicians – the most prominent one being of course, M.I.A.

Here we are in the last week of Sepia Mutiny. On these pages as a reader, I’ve discovered some of my favorite songs and as a writer, I’ve gotten to interview some of the most amazing people. I’ve loved discovering new Desi music and examining musicians exploration of hyphenated identities through lyric, music and movement.

Since I love lists – what better way to remember this then… a Top Ten Favorite Mutinous Music Moments.

  1. M.I.A.- Maya has graced the pages of our site an innumerable amount of times – 100 posts to be exact. From her first “galang”, to her so-called retirement, to a pregger M.I.A. singing at the Grammy Awards with A.R. Rahman. She was the first things that drew me as a reader to the pages of the Mutiny. In the past 8 years peoples opinions of her may have waned, but she definitely has made her mark
  2. Das Racist – Despite Abhi’s first post where he made his firesauce prediction that Pizza Hut, Taco Bell was going to be a Desi fave, could we have suspected these guys would have exploded the way they did? They’ve gone from a YouTube sensation to dropping Shut Up, Dude & Sit Down, Man & Relax to selling out shows as an international music sensation. But by far, PhillyGrrl’s interviews Part 1 & Part 2 were my most favorite interviews to grace these pages.
  3. Vijay Iyer – He’s gone from Still Life with Commentator in 2006 to the #1 Jazz Album of the year IN 2010 for Historicity. Sugi’s interview with Vijay is one of the sweetest interviews Part 1 & Part 2.
  4. The Kominas – Who would have known when I first blogged about these guys in 2006, that my life as a blogger would get so intimately intertwined w/ this band and the taqwacore scene? My first interview with Basim Usmani goes down as one of my favorites. Following the growth if this band personally has been epic to say the least, whether following them on cross country TaqwaTour or as my “camera crew” at Sundance for my Aamir Khan interview. Epic, indeed.
  5. DJ Rekha – the infamous and legendary, we’ve talked about Rekha since she smacked Daler Mehndi down. Whether Basement Bhangra (dance party AND CD) or DJing at the White House Easter Egg Hunt. There’s a reason why she’s one of my Desi Women of the Decade. Continue reading

Shanti Outta Brooklyn

With only a couple of Mondays left for a #MusicMonday, I know I had to make this one a song that will stick in your head for a while.

The song is by an MC I’m really surprised hasn’t been covered by the Mutiny before. Brooklyn Shanti, a Bengali DJ coming outta…. well … Brooklyn,  I heard about via Mandeep Sethi, my connection to all the latest in Desi hip-hop. Brooklyn Shanti is ridiculously prolific – his website and his bandcamp have tons of songs available for download and he’ll be coming out with an album in the next couple of months. Of course, I have an affinity for all things Bengali, and I absolutely instantly fell in love when I heard his Bangla lyric-ed song Rani, Rani.

His theme song’s not so bad either. Keep an eye on this guy – Brooklyn Shanti’s going to be going far with these skills.

Check out his bandcamp discography – if you like the above songs, I’m sure you’ll like what else he has. You can download his full album from June 2011 for free right here: Brookylin Circa 2012

I hope you’ve enjoyed the #MusicMonday’s at Sepia Mutiny these past couple of years – I started them because I wanted to have some content to provide for you on a weekly basis. After a while though, it became more of a scavenger hunt and a game to find the songs I would actually listen to on my iPod. I’ve found and befriended many of the artists profiled on these pages – and I’m hoping that my fantastical dream of Alterna-Desi Music Fest on the So Cal desert of Bombay Beach with these bands will happen some day. Some day…

Your Last Chance… *UPDATED*

UPDATE: To accommodate our adoring mutinous mutineers – we’ve shifted the location and time. Same date, March 31st 2012, THIS SATURDAY.

NEW TIME: 2:30pm – 6:30pm

NEW LOCATION: The Liberties Bar, 998 Guerrero Street  San Francisco, CA 94110

++++

What’s that you say? It’s the end of a mutinous era and you never even made it to a Sepia Mutiny Meetup? Rajni the Monkey went wild in the bunker once he heard this news and is now throwing poop at your computer screen. But ask and The Mutiny delivers – at least for the next 15 days till the April 1st door slam. ANNA revived the 55 Friday because of this tweet and hell, thanks to this forlorn tweet from @YungCoconut and @AmericanTurban, I will do the same.

Join Manish, Vinod, Pavani and myself for the Cali swagest meetup of your mutinous lifetime in San Francisco on Saturday March 31st. We know that you Alterna-Desi types have already bought your tickets to the 8th annual Yoni Ki Baat performance. “Yoni Ki heh…?” you ask? Desi, please.

South Asian Sisters are back again to present another brand new script with funny, touching, sensational, and thought-provoking raw performances submitted by South Asian women across the country! [southasiansisters]

 

For more info and to purchase tickets to the March 31st & April 1st San Francisco Yoni Ki Baat shows, please check out their site here.

As for the LAST CHANCE AT GOING TO A SEPIA MUTINY MEETUP…

  • New Time: 2:30pm – 6:30pm
  • Date: Saturday, March 31st, 2012
  • New Location: The Liberties Bar, 998 Guerrero Street  San Francisco, CA 94110
  • Facebook Event Page Right Here

 

Please comment below if you will be able to make it! Since this is the last meetup – EVER – I highly suggest out-of-towners fly into SF for a Cesar Chavez long weekend of Mutinous fun. If you have a bar/lounge suggestion (that is open at 4:30pm) do let me know and we can change the local, as long as we keep it in The Mission. And if you can’t come to the meetup but want to keep in touch - you can always find us on twitter, too.

It’s not goodbye – it’s just a farewell, for now. I’ll see y’all on the internet flip side and by that I mean IRL.

Desis Are Everywhere

Though I’ve previously blogged about the APIA Census 2010, South Asian Americans Leading Together and the Asian American Foundation have just released a fascinating new report, “A Demographic Snapshot of South Asians in the United States.”  Even though the current population total number has been previously reported and is not new news (over 3.4 million South Asians live in the United States and the population has grown by 78% in the last decade), what is interesting about this report (which you can download here) is the population map they provided.

It should be no surprise by now where the largest populations of South Asians are.  According to the report, metropolitan areas with the largest South Asian populations are New York City, Chicago, Washington DC, Los Angeles, and San Francisco-Oakland and in over the past ten years, the Washington DC metropolitan area overtook the Los Angeles metropolitan area as the area with the third largest South Asian population.

But to me what was surprising to see is where exactly the growing South Asian populations live (as seen in the map above). The South Asian population grew the most in Charlotte, NC, increasing 187% over the past ten years. This was followed by Phoenix; Richmond VA; Raleigh, NC, San Antonio, Seattle, and Stockton, CA; Jacksonville, FL; Harrisburg, PA; and Las Vegas. Among the ten fastest growing South Asian metropolitan areas, only the Seattle and Phoenix metropolitan areas had more than 30,000 South Asians in 2010, while the smallest of the top 10 fastest growing metropolitan areas was the Harrisburg, PA metropolitan area with close to 6,500 South Asians. These are all regions without a significant history of South Asian American migration and I wonder what has happened in these regions that led to such a rapid growth in these cities. Continue reading

Spills All Over

This Valentine’s Day, feel free be prepared to spill your heart with this week’s belated #MusicMonday. Breaking into the scene with his first solo album, Feel Free, 25 year old Sid Muralidhar otherwise known as the NYC beat master Spills has released an album that gives The Weeknd a run for his money. The first half of the album start with a slow drawl with songs like Pregnant Silence and the two stepping Siren featuring Basim Usmani’s falsetto and leads up to the second harder half of the album with deep beats, such as in Mariah Carey’s Satanic Offspring.

But you don’t have to take my word for it – the album Feel Free is available … well, for free. So download it for free now!  

Two things I love about Spills. First, I love that he was part of an acoustic dub/hip hop duo called Two Dirty Desis. And the second is this:

For those who want to delve further into his creative mind, Feel Free Ableton session files will be available to be used in any way, shape or form on February 21, 2012. On his decision to release the Ableton files, Spills remarked:

 

“Honestly, I would have never even thought to give away ALL the session files… some would say a hip hop producer is only as good as his samples and synths. But that whole Internet black out thing to protest government and corporate censorship really inspired me – made me realize that we’re only as powerful as our connections to each other. So everyone should feel free to do with this project whatever they want … go nuts.”

 

You heard him. Go nuts!

Brown Finger’s Pointing at You

I think it’s safe to say that today’s #MusicMonday is brought to you by the letters M, I, and A. She might have had only 18 seconds of screen time as a Madonna backup hook girl out of the 13 minute halftime Superbowl show, but M.I.A. made every one of those seconds count.

…a member of M.I.A.’s camp, speaking Sunday night from the Super Bowl host city of Indianapolis, said M.I.A. was struck with “a case of adrenaline.” “She wasn’t thinking,” said the source, who requested anonymity but was with the artist at Lucas Oil Stadium. “It wasn’t any kind of statement. She was caught in the moment and she’s incredibly sorry.” [link]

 

So, it wasn’t a political statement – she was caught in the moment. She has yet to issue an actual apology. The song itself, as I mentioned before, is pretty lame and a brown middle finger was the highlight of that tune. The full SuperBowl halftime show was, on the other hand, pretty awe inducing.

As for M.I.A. and her brown finger. Well, everyone is stumbling to point the blame finger at someone else.

NBC has apologized for airing footage of M.I.A. flipping off the cameras while delivering the line “I don’t give a shit” during Madonna‘s Super Bowl halftime show. “The NFL hired the talent and produced the halftime show,” NBC said in a statement to the Hollywood Reporter. “Our system was late to obscure the inappropriate gesture and we apologize to our viewers.”

 

The NFL have also issued an apology for the incident, but placed the blame on NBC’s censors. “There was a failure in NBC’s delay system,” spokesman Brian McCarthy said in a statement. “The obscene gesture in the performance was completely inappropriate, very disappointing, and we apologize to our fans.” [link]

Continue reading

New Anthem for the Bad Girls

With rumors spinning about M.I.A. appearing at this Sunday’s SuperBowl halftime show to do a song w/ the Material Girl & Nicki Minaj, it’s no surprise that Maya dropped a song on the interwebs for all of us to peep. This morning she released the video for her song “Bad Girls” – with the kind of slow beat that makes you want to drop the seat back in your ride and do the gangster lean while rocking a keffiya.

The song is great, but I absolutely LOVE this video – if only because I can imagine Saudi women blasting this rebellious song as they drive unlawfully through the desert. The stunts are pretty legit and gritty without the Hollywood flair too. I feel as if “Bad Girls” skips over Vicki Leex mixtape and goes back to the world orientalist flavor of the Kala days of M.I.A.. I loved the Kala days.

The video, directed by Romain Gavras (see: M.I.A.’s “Born Free”) was shot in Ouarzazate, Morocco, and premiered exclusively on VICE’s new music channel Noisey. The short features daring car stunts that had M.I.A. terrified the entire time.[huffpost]

 

“It was dope to have so many people from so many different backgrounds speaking so many different languages come together to create something that we believed in,” says M.I.A about the video. “I thought I was gonna die on the shoot when I saw the drifting.  It was a four day shoot so everyone was on edge the whole time specifically ME when I had to do bluesteel singing to the camera while the cars did doughnuts on the wet road ten feet away. In my mind I was thinking how I was gonna deliver the video to Vice with no legs.” [bizjournals]

 

But, yo… this track that just premiered with Madonna and Nicki Minaj though leaves a bad taste in my mouth. They dress Nicki and MIA to be cheerleaders and give them a two line rap? And what’s with the blonde wigs to make them look like Madonna/Marilyn? Oh so bad. Video after the jump. Continue reading

10/10 for Amit

Remember Amit Gupta? He was diagnosed with Leukimia in September 2011 and thus began the largest social media driven internet friendly bone marrow donor recruitment campaign we’ve seen to date. He has something to share today.

… After over 100 drives organized by friends, family, and strangers, celebrity call-outs, a bazillion reblogs (7000+!), tweets, and Facebook posts, press, fundraising and international drives organized by tireless friends, and a couple painful false starts, I’ve got a 10/10 matched donor! You all literally helped save my life. (And the lives of many others.) [amitgupta]

 

I am stunned by this good news! As we’ve blogged before, South Asians have a 1 in 20,000 chance of finding a donor match and to find a perfect match is even more of a slim chance. This is one of those circumstances that highlights how social media campaigns can turn into real life successes! Of course, Amit still has a battle ahead of him.

Tomorrow, I’ll be admitted to Dana Farber in Boston for 4-5 weeks.

 

First I’ll get a second Hickman line to allow direct access to my heart (for meds and for nutrients if I’m not able to eat). Over the next week, the docs blast my body with a stiff chemo cocktail to try and eradicate all traces of cancer cells. In the process, the immune system I was born with, and my body’s ability to make blood, are destroyed.

Continue reading

Redistricting in Nehru Jackets

Himanshu Suri of the infamous Das Racist is stepping out from behind the microphone, kind of. He’s teaming up with his childhood friend Ali Najmi (of Desis Vote) and joining the board of Queens based SEVA-NY to bring awareness to a very heated issue, redistricting in immigrant heavy Queens because the plans that are being drawn up will make you want to yell, “Das RACIST!”

Prominent Queens-bred rapper Himanshu Suri is adding his voice to the contentious redistricting debate, joining the board of directors of SEVA, a Richmond Hill-based immigrant rights group.

 

Suri’s childhood friend, Ali Najmi works for SEVA and introduced him to Gurpal Singh, one of the founders of the group and also a music producer. Within two hours of meeting one another, Singh and Suri were tinkering with tracks and discussing local politics. SEVA has an “army” of volunteers, Singh said, but Suri adds some much needed star power to the organization. [link]

 

Himanshu is at a SEVA community meeting performing right now (Monday night). It just so happens that his solo album titled after his very popular tumblr site Nehru Jackets also just dropped online on SEVA‘s website (thx for the tip, Pardon My Hindi!). For your #MusicMonday pleasure, you can find the link to the download here. Continue reading