Book review of “L.A. Son : My Life, My City, My Food” and “Fresh Off the Boat: A Memoir.”

April 27th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink


Choi, Roy. L.A. Son : My Life, My City, My Food. Ecco, 2013.

Huang, Eddie. Fresh Off the Boat: A Memoir. Spiel, 2013.

Appears in: Los Angeles Review of Books, April 27, 2014.

Getting Schooled: Lessons From Researching Filipino American Mobile DJ Crews

February 7th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

(2014). “Getting Schooled: Lessons From Researching Filipino American Mobile DJ Crews.” In M. Villegas, K. Kandi, & R. Labrador (Eds.), Empire of Funk: Hip-Hop and Representation in Filipina/o America. Cognella Press: 37-42.

Anthology essay (solicited).

Learning From Los Kogi Angeles: A Taco Truck and Its City

October 25th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

(2013). “Learning From Los Kogi Angeles: A Taco Truck and Its City.” In R. Ku, M. Manalansan, and A. Mannur (Eds.), Eating Asian America: A Food Studies Reader (pp. 78-97). New York: NYU Press.

Anthology essay (solicited, refereed).

The Comfort Zone: Shaping the Retro-Soul Audience

November 25th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

(2012). “The Comfort Zone: Shaping the Retro-Soul Audience.” In E. Weisbard (Ed.), Pop When the World Falls Apart (pp. 201-229). Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Anthology essay (solicited, refereed).

The Journey of “Viva Tirado”

December 11th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

“The Journey of “Viva Tirado”: A Musical Conversation within Afro-Chicano Los Angeles.” Journal of Popular Music Studies 22.4 (2010): 348-66.

Journal article (submitted, refereed).

Traces the various iterations of Gerald Wilson’s 1962 composition “Viva Tirado,” and how it has facilitated conversations between multiple generations of African Americans and Mexican Americans in Los Angeles.

Background: A little over a dozen years ago, Josh Kun introduced me to what I describe as the “multiple iterations” of “Viva Tirado,” a jazz song originally composed by Gerald Wilson in 1962. The song was the most prominent of many written by Wilson – an African American bandleader – dedicated to Mexican and Spanish culture. Seven years later, in late 1969, it found new life in the hands of El Chicano, a band of young Chicanos out of the Los Angeles eastside who themselves were steeped in Black R&B and jazz styles. Their version of “Viva Tirado” became the definitive one, covered by many other artists through the 1970s, including in Italy, the Netherlands, Jamaica and Panama. In 1990, parts of their version became interpolated and sampled into “La Raza,” the groundbreaking Chicano pride rap song by L.A’s Kid Frost. The essay traces that journey, and in doing so, explores how the song has managed to be at the center of cross-cultural conversation between multiple generations of Blacks and Chicanos in Los Angeles. (A audio mix of many versions of “Viva Tirado” is also included on the JPMS web site).
Update: I’m not sure what I was thinking, but I realized on page 352, I mis-“placed” Kabuki Sukiyaki in Baldwin Hills when it’s very clearly (and rather obviously) in the Crenshaw district (3840 Crenshaw, to be exact). Embarrassing error on my part.

Reflections from a Sociologist of Popular Culture

December 24th, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

“Reflections from a Sociologist of Popular Culture.” Footnotes. Vol 37 (8), Nov-Dec 2009.

Personal essay.

Background: I was asked by Footnotes to contribute an essay describing my path into studying popular culture as both a scholar and journalist and the particular rewards and challenges it creates along the way. I have to admit; this was much harder to write than I thought it would be (perhaps a sure sign that my skills in writing are not being kept as honed as they could!) but it was a good exercise in getting me to actually think about the integration of different interests in my professional life. a

To Live and Dine in Kogi L.A.

November 13th, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

“To Live and Dine in Kogi L.A.” Contexts. Vol. 8(4), Fall 2009

Culture review.

“While praised for being a more youthful, multiethnic, and tech savvy form of food delivery, Kogi trucks providing ethnic fusion street food in Los Angeles also illustrate the persistence of socioeconomic divisions in urban life. According to Oliver Wang, Kogi demonstrates that there are still lines that aren’t crossed when it comes to urban ethnic relations.”

Background: I was first introduced to Kogi by my colleague at USC, Karen Tongson, who had heard about the truck before its popularity had reached the proverbial tipping point. As the Kogi story began to unfold in the winter of 2009, I was intrigued by how media coverage of the Truck wanted to posit it as this culinary representation of Los Angeles culture and society. To be sure, I did think Kogi was marvelously ingenious; less so for its food (though those short-rib tacos are delicious) and more so for its distribution and marketing innovations as a haute cuisine catering truck. However, I was also struck at how Kogi’s changing set of locations seemed to synch up perfectly with any number of increasing popular, gentrifying neighborhoods and thanks to the Truck’s well-remarked upon Twitter feed, I was able to do a simple mapping of where the Truck had been and equally important, where it never went. That put me on the path of this article, the core thesis being that Kogi does indeed reflect L.A. It just happens to be a far more complex Los Angeles than is promoted in news stories or publicity boilerplate. (Note: anyone having trouble accessing this article in full PDF form can email me for a copy instead).

Rapping and Repping Asian…

April 16th, 2007 § 0 comments § permalink

“Rapping and Repping Asian: Race, Authenticity, and the Asian American MC.” Alien Encounters : Popular Culture in Asian America. Ed. M. Nguyen, T. Tu. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2007: 35-68.

Anthology essay (solicited, refereed).

Discusses the history of Asian American rappers, from the late 1970s and through the early 2000s, paying special attention to the ways in which these artists negotiate the challenge of racial authenticity as non-Black/non-White participants.

Background: My interest in Asian American rappers began in the early 1990s as a matter of personal curiosity. I was Asian American. I was a hip-hop fan. Ergo, when I began to read about Asian Americans making the jump from fan –> performer, I was intrigued. Then, when I began my journalism career in the mid-1990s, writing for both ethnic and music press, it made sense to integrate the two by writing on this emergent wave of Asian American rappers. I followed (as best I could) trends within that community through the early ’00s and graduate school allowed me to bring new sets of critical tools to thinking on and writing about the topic.
This essay was therefore a culmination of many years of thinking about the politics of race, representation and identity amongst Asian American rappers, beginning as early as the late 1970s and bookended in the “present” with the emergence of Jin in the early ’00s. Of course, Asian American rappers have gone onto evolve in myriad ways since then (but that’s another essay awaiting to be written.)

Trapped In Between The Lines…

February 8th, 2007 § 0 comments § permalink

“Trapped In Between The Lines: The Aesthetics of Hip-Hop Journalism.” Total Chaos: The Art and Aesthetics of Hip-Hop. Edited by Jeff Chang. New York: Basic Civitas. 2007.

Anthology essay (non-academic).

Traces the history and evolution of hip-hop journalism/criticsm from the early 1980s through present day. Looks at the relevance of publications such as The Village Voice, Source, XXL, ego trip and modern blogging.

Background: This isn’t a formal academic essay but I took a scholarly approach to researching and writing on how I suggest hip-hop journalism has changed over the course of over 20 years. I sifted through a good deal of magazine back issues (all this in the days before Google Books!), as well as drawing upon my own background in the field from the mid-1990s forward. Ironically, while this essay was being written at a time where many of my colleagues knew that the internet was changing the infrastructure of the journalism industry, it didn’t come out until such a time where that industry was collapsing at a perilous rate. It says much that for an essay published in 2007, what I describe feels downright anachronistic just two years later when the landscape has been so brutally transformed.

Book Review of “Hollywood Asian”…

January 8th, 2007 § 0 comments § permalink


Book review of Hye Seung Chung’s Hollywood Asian: Philip Ahn and the Politics of Cross-Ethnic Performance. International Journal of Communication, 1(1), 2007.

Book review in journal (solicited, refereed).

Reviews Chung’s “critical biography” of Korean American actor Philip Ahn and his long career in Hollywood playing a variety of “Asian” roles.