Savoring Life in Philadelphia

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oh FRICK yes September 1, 2009

Filed under: asian america — lifesavorer @ 8:19 pm

No Casino in the Heart of Our City Coalition

Chinatown, August 30

Issue: #9 September 1, 2009


Dear Coalition Members,

We have achieved one of the major goals of our campaign. We stopped Foxwoods from building a slots parlor in the heart of our city.

At a public hearing on Friday, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board extended Foxwoods’ slots license for another 21 months, with the condition that Foxwoods stick to its licensed site at the waterfront in South Philadelphia.

Foxwoods’ attempt to locate in center city has been rebuffed.

Foxwoods investor, Ron Rubin’s attempt to become Foxwoods’ landlord as well has been foiled.

Philadelphia’s political elite’s attempt to force a Center City casino on Philadelphian has been denied.

Now, as Foxwoods faces the choice of building at the waterfront or no place at all, it does so in an extremely weakened state. The casino industry is tanking nationwide. Here in the Philadelphia area, we see more and more casinos scrapping over a limited customer base. The tribe that is partnering with local investors to run Foxwoods needs to restructure $2 billion of debt and is at risk of defaulting on its loans. The credit market is tight, limiting almost all new construction. Foxwoods’ credibility is at an all-time low; even casino-boosters like the PA Gaming Control Board are questioning Foxwoods’ capacity and will to get a slot parlor up and running.

You joined us in a fight that everybody said could not be won. Since the start of this struggle, we have understood the powerful array of forces lined up against us. And despite all the naysayers who said that we should be quiet and accept the inevitable, we have added our strength to those who have kept casinos from breaking ground in Philadelphia to date.

Foxwoods’ forced retreat from Chinatown and Center City marks one more important step in the long battle to drive predatory gambling from Philadelphia.


It is our Coalition’s stand that slots parlors do not belong near any neighborhood. It wasn’t right for Chinatown and Center City to be saddled with a casino. Neither is it right for the people of Pennsport, South Philadelphia, Fishtown or Northern Liberties to be saddled with one.

We understand that casinos profit by promoting addiction and impoverishing their customers, and the threat of this predatory business extends beyond neighborhood boundaries.

We also need to be vigilant and guard against future casino intrusion into Center City. If Foxwoods fails to meet the conditions of the Gaming Control Board, their license would be revoked and new casino developers sought – which might mean a return to the center city site.

We are encouraged by the recent events, and we are inspired to press on to eliminate the threat of predatory gambling in our city.


6:30 PM
@ the No Slots Spot
718 Market Street

sliding scale: $5 to $500 (no one will be turned away)

Come to the No Slots Spot on September 15:

Celebrate Kicking Foxwoods Out of Center City
Mobilize to Kick Casinos Out of Philadelphia
We strengthen our movement
when we invest in building our community.
Join with others as we celebrate our fight &
look forward to the struggle still to come.
We hope to see you on September 15!Thanks for all you do.


Ellen Somekawa
Asian Americans United,
for the Coalition


furious style! August 7, 2009

Join us for Open Mic Night!

August 14
7 p.m.

The open mic will feature…

  • Artist-in-Residence Jeff Cylkowski as MC!
  • Live performance by local b-boys Dreamerz Crew!
  • Special presentations by Cambodian Association of Greater Philadelphia and Iranian Youth Media Workshop!
  • You*!!! Sign up that night!

*Open mic rules
The theme is “Community.” Each person will be allotted 5 minutes. Non-Asian performers, please open with a work by an Asian American artist.

Earlier that evening…
At 5 p.m., we will celebrate Second Friday with the exhibition opening reception of Furious Style!

Price of admission…
Free, but donations are always happily accepted!

Our new home…
1219 Vine Street, Philly Chinatown

About this latest exhibition…
The joyously self-described “unrefined and undefined” culmination of an energetic six-week workshop, Furious Style! merges elements of abstract art with graffiti-style lettering that speaks to the values of today’s young visionaries and tomorrow’s leaders. The exhibition also includes Jeff Cylkowski’s colorful and colossal site-specific mural installation welcoming visitors into the foyer of the Asian Arts Initiative’s new home.

Frolic on Facebook…


strummin’ under the stars at the little red string June 28, 2009

the little red string

“the little red string” by Jonathan & Kimberly Stemler

(photography by Jeff Reeder)

Stop by and revel in an evening of music, food, and community with the Asian Arts Initiative to celebrate the final evening of “the little red string” installation by artists Jonathan and Kimberly Stemler:


Monday, July 6, 7-9 p.m.


Carlton Street between 11th & 12th Streets, Chinatown (Carlton is north of Vine, south of Callowhill, one block away from the Initiative)



Summer 2009 Youth Lounge June 19, 2009

Youth Lounge Flyer

Thoughts?  Suggestions?   Commenting doesn’t require registration with WordPress.  =O)


Urban Convergence @ Asian Arts Initiative June 9, 2009


a high-energy exhibition

Exhibit: June 12 – August 2, 2009 (see below for gallery hours)

Opening Reception:

Friday, June 12, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.

feat. music by DJ Phantastic
plus live b-boy performances by Dreamerz & Stylers Crews

The marriage between art and culture has never been more prominent than it is today. Examples abound: Damien Hirst’s paintings as the backdrop of Jay-Z’s music videos; Takashi Murakami’s designs on Louis Vuitton’s accessories and Kanye West’s album cover; graffiti art on Converse sneakers, Sprint advertisements, and energy drinks; Shepard Fairey’s iconic “HOPE” portrait of President Obama.

These collaborations reflect an unprecedented merging and morphing of artistic genres and culture—high art with street art, underground with pop, fine art with street culture—that is breaking down social barriers and dated paradigms and clearing space for new ideas and aesthetics.

Hailing from metropolitan hubs throughout the country—Philadelphia, New York, San Francisco, Chicago, and Washington D.C.—these artists will share exciting work in a variety of mediums and styles that demonstrate a nationwide convergence toward a fresh contemporary sensibility with an urban edge: Pose II, Joshua Mays, Dave Cramske, Isaac Lin, Rodney Camarce, Jesse Olanday, Sun You, Figments by Ciriaco, Anjni Raol, Shin Ae Tassia, Chanika Svetvilas, Bret Syfert, Junghwa O’Connell, Miss Tina Wong, Teel MUL, and Dan “R5” Barojas.

Urban Convergence is curated by Jeff Cylkowski, a Korean American adoptee and Brooklyn-based multidisciplinary painter, muralist, and hip-hop artist. Before receiving a formal art education from the Pratt Institute, he spent years immersed in urban subcultures. The spirit of that experience continues to inform his work today. In summer 2009, he will be Artist-in-Residence at the Asian Arts Initiative.

The residency will include a six-week series of painting and mural-making workshops with local youth in partnership with the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, beginning July 6 and culminating with an exhibition of new work on August 14, 2009.

Gallery hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday – Friday
(215)557-0455 or


Edge of the World 2009 @ Asian Arts Initiative May 14, 2009

√ Become aware of racism in the media
√ Protest against racism in the media
__ Support anti-racist media

On May 29/30 (your choice), check off this last crucial item!


Asian Arts Initiative presents

A roller coaster of Asian American experience!

Friday & Saturday, May 29 – 30, 2009
7:30 p.m.

From the diverse and intersecting worlds of spoken word, comedy, writing and performance, a cast from East and West coasts collaborate to create a night of “speed plays” inspired by a range of intensely personal stories and global social conditions. All the plays are short – from a few seconds to as many as 5 minutes. So don’t sit back for long, but do enjoy the ride!

Featuring Regie Cabico, John Castro, Makoto Hirano, Sueyeun Juliette Lee, Traci Kato-Kiriyama, Dan Kim, Michelle Myers, Gary San Angel, Anula Shetty, Ryan Suda, F. Omar Telan, Greg Watanabe, Kristina Wong, and other possible surprises.

Warning: the show may include strong language and sensitive content not intended for anyone who is faint of heart! Viewer discretion is advised!


$15 general admission, $12 students

Asian Arts Initiative, 1219 Vine Street, Philadelphia

More info:  Asian Arts Initiative: (215)557-0455 or

*FACEBOOK FRIEND US – “AsianArts Initiative,” not “Asian Arts Initiative.”

Be the first to receive invitations and news about discounts, programs, and other exciting ventures!


taiko high! March 4, 2009

Filed under: asian america — lifesavorer @ 7:00 pm
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Update: KyoDaiko has opened up registration for an introductory taiko drumming class!  Classes will start on April 29 and take place every Wednesday night at 6:15-7:30 PM at the Asian Arts Initiative.  For the application form, contact Matt Palmer (

Aside from the occasional hours-long splurge (more frequent since I have returned home), I avoid television because I generally detest commercials. But I have to admit that quite a few ads have stuck with me over the years, including this one:

The commercial above features TAIKOPROJECT, whose company I had the pleasure of enjoying for 2 hours last night.  No, I did not attend a performance – their concert won’t take place until Friday night at the Annenberg Center in West Philly (ticket info here).  I instead had the privilege of attending their hands-on drumming workshop. (more…)