I moved to Minneapolis for Prince

On the left, we took a photo in the car, before we went into Paisley Park last summer. Prince doesn’t allow photos or alcohol in his parties. On the right, Paisley Park at night. Credit: Angilee Shah

On the day of Prince’s death, I wrote a remembrance.

I don’t remember not listening to Prince. After college, I got my first job in Los Angeles and moved into a motel-turned-apartment on La Cienega Boulevard. The street was busy and, like most of my neighbors had experienced at one time or another, my old Civic was broken into in my first few months on the block. They smashed a back window, took my tennis bag and a pair of heels I wore into the office. I made peace in my heart with the thief, though, mostly because the only CD he or she took from my collection was “The Very Best of Prince.”

Prince to me was Los Angeles, and I love Los Angeles. So whoever had the good taste to cherry-pick his music from the pack was OK with me. I couldn’t blame them. I had barely enough money at the time to fix the back window. I replaced the Prince CD first.

Read the full story at PRI.org.

Haute Hijabis

Trimmings in downtown Los Angeles' fashion districtMarwa Atik needs five pieces of trim, the kind embellished with pearls and black jewels. At a store in downtown L.A.’s Fashion District, boxes of trimmings line the walls from floor to ceiling, but Atik scans quickly and zeroes in on what she wants. At her direction, a clerk climbs a tall, wooden ladder and pulls down one of the cardboard boxes. He counts out five pieces and, after 30 seconds of bargaining, Atik makes her purchase.

For the next five days, the designer will create elaborate hijabs, which are head-scarves for Muslim women, to display at an upcoming Irvine fashion show. Atik’s company, Vela, specializes in unique designs of an item known more often for its conservative connotations than its stylistic value.

Read on in the LA Weekly.

Ai-jen Poo: The Rock Star of Community Organizing

At a conference about social movements in Los Angeles last month, all it took was the mention of her name and the crowd erupted in applause. In the world of community organizing, Ai-jen Poo, the director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, is a rock star.

As the crowd sat, though, Poo asked the women to stand up again and give themselves a round of applause. “Women are the heart of social organizing,” she said. “And you should be recognized.”

Rock star she may be, but Poo always puts the movement first. When she was voted onto Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the World this year – hailed by no less than Gloria Steinem – she attributed it to her cause.  “It’s a testament to the power of women’s organizing,” she said over tea. “And particularly to the movement that I’m a part of.”

Read on to the Q&A at DAME Magazine.

A man of faith

The offices of L.A. Voice, where Umar Hakim is in residency, are on the third floor of the First Baptist Church of Los Angeles. So when it comes time for Hakim to offer his daily prayers, he finds a quiet room, faces Mecca and turns his thoughts to God.
“Most people don’t object to prayer,” he says. “They just object to control.”

Hakim, 41, says that as his faith deepens, so too does his desire to “be disruptive.” Muslims are present in Los Angeles’ civic life, he explains, they’re just not organized.

Read on at the LA Weekly.

Health care reform, diabesity and the language of health journalism

Since Sunday evening this week, I’ve been spending time with National Health Journalism Fellows in downtown Los Angeles. We’ve visited slum housing, debated the terminology used in news reports about domestic violence, spent an evening at the ER, and dissected the legislative debates surrounding health care reform. You can read my live-blogging from the seminar on at ReportingonHealth.org and keep up with later posts, written by other people, on The Fellowships Blog or with @ReportingHealth on Twitter.

But for now, here is a post about one of the panels which I thought merited some discussion, even beyond the health journalism sphere. The speaker gave some specific admonitions about language in news. You can comment here or at the orignal Reporting on Health post.

not usually a fan

I’m in Los Angeles, but I’m not a big Grammys watcher. This year, I might just let CBS run in the background.

I first listened to the music of M.I.A. in 2005, when Asia Pacific Arts took an early bet that she would become big news for the music industry. This year, her second album, Kala, has become a staple in my musical diet. It is absolutely layered and filled with unexpected sounds and lyrics. Maybe that’s why Paper Planes, nominated for record of the year, gave such great character to the most entertaining scenes of Slumdog Millionaire, and made a really great trailer (just the end part) for Pineapple Express.

She’s got guts, and not just with her music. She’s slated to take the Grammy stage this year, very pregnant, for a performance on the day her baby is due. It’s certainly garnered her a lot of attention. She wrote (in hot pink) on her MySpace blog:

I want you to know that , everyone has been asking me on the shows to talk about the sudden popularity im experiencing, the babies, the grammies the oscars etc

and i want you to know that this has been part of the plan from day 1.

Indeed, M.I.A. has a plan; she’s got something to say, and it will be interesting to see if a show like the Grammys, not well known for its risk-taking, will let her say it. And what the last hours of pregnancy looks like on stage.

Here are a few interviews, if you’re unfamiliar with M.I.A.’s story. The first is another great interview by Tavis Smiley, the second a basic CNN interview, a quick sum-up of the Sri Lanka conflict in between M.I.A. soundbites, that is getting some flack.

 


 

(I am also intrigued by Radiohead’s reported Grammy night plans.)

random updates: writing about Singapore, teaching in Cambodia and watching movies in Korea

I had a little bit of an epiphany about my writing life in Singapore a while ago. And I promised I would write more about the country where I live. So, a few months later, I am true to my word and am posting for Global Voices. Will work my way up to longer, reported writing.

I’m also not giving up just yet on my goal to get at least a few of my students reading more. I’m writing for them at npReads. Students, colleagues — if you’re reading this, I’d love for you to contribute and build the site after my fellowship ends.

Next next weekend, I’ll be attending a bar camp in Phnom Phen. I’d like to teach a news writing topic — perhaps about upsidedown triangles or a spiced up lead drill of some sort. Any suggestions or requests? Mostly, I am very excited to meet new people and get to know Cambodia a bit.

In the first week of October, I’ll be off to the Pusan Internation Film Festival with my friend and trusted film maniac Brian Hu. I’ll take some photos and do some writing and try to see as many beautiful people as possible. And get a taste for Korea.

Then it’s off to Los Angeles, home of tacos and burritos and In ‘n Out burgers. And my family too.