Globe-trotting South Korean Production Supervisor Kate Young Eun Park is my guest this week. She came on to promote Cookin', a madcap percussive musical featuring four frenzied chefs striving to meet a crazy wedding banquet deadline. In its 26th year, Cookin' has been already been viewed by 1.48 million people in 60 countries, and is currently at the Minneapolis Children's Theater Company (CTC) until Oct 22, 2023, and then it moves to Charlotte, NC, for a week. If you aren't able to make either of these performances, you can look for Cookin' (or Nanta) on Youtube. You can copy and past this link to see the 2016 performance at The Kennedy Center in Washington, DC: https://www.youtube.com/live/GJlv4BNNKEg?si=g6SEW7qSD8OG3Gvu.
Korean American adoptee Kristen Meinzer has harnassed the power of her unique voice and interests to become a familiar commentator on aspects of pop culture, British royalty, and even weird fringe Christian cults. Considered to be one of the "22 most influential women in podcasting today," Meinzer shares what every budding podcaster needs to know, along with some hilarious stories from her current collection of podcasts that she co-hosts. You'll also learn how she has become one of the go-to commentators on the British monarchy and their racism!
It took Amy Yip 38 years to come to grips with what it meant to take ownership of her own life, which involved learning how to relate to her immigrant Asian parents in more curious and objective ways. She's now a successful life-coach and her book Unfinished Business: Breaking Down the Great Wall Between Adult Child & Immigrant Parents will be in stores on 9/28/23.
My guest this episode is writer, producer, director and activist Curtis Chin, whose memoir "Everything I Learned, I Learned in a Chinese Restaurant" will appear in bookstores on Oct 17th. The book is about growing up Asian American in the Black and white city of Detroit, Michigan, and coming out of the closet in his working-class immigrant community.
Ken Fong recently returned from scattering his beloved wife Snoopy's cremains in the turquoise-blue clear water between the Mokulua Islands on the windward side of Oahu. For years, every time they would visit Lanikai Beach, Snoopy would remind him that that would be the final resting place of her earthly remains. After cancer claimed her this past July, Ken, daugther Janessa, Snoopy's brothers Darren and Greg, and her best friend Tanya put their heads together to figure out how to fulfill this request.
Co-host Ken Kemp has been part of this difficult journey and when they got together a few days ago, he not only wanted to express how impactful the memorial service was, but to ask Fong whether harnessing his creativity was a helpful way for him to process his grief. It's an unusual conversation on many different levels, and one that you're really going to appreciate.
Here's the link to the 3rd video: https://vimeo.com/857689287?share=copy
Mike Yam is a Chinese Italian American who currently serves as a studio host for the NFL Network after anchoring the Pac 12 network from 2012 to 2020. Obviously, I had to ask him what he thought of the disintegration of the Pac 12 before our very eyes, but the main reason I had him on was to talk about his first children's book Fried Rice and Marinara, which portrays a bit of what it's like to grow up as a 'combo plate' American.
Occidental College's Dr. Jane Hong is working on a new book that uses the history of Asian American evangelicals as a lens to explore the intersections of race, religion, and politics since the 1970s. The fact that I came of age on the West Coast during this period as an Asian American evangelical pastor, leader, and seminary adjunct made me keenly interested to pick Dr. Hong's brain.
In this episode AAPI Equity Alliance's ED Manjusha Kulkarni and COQUAL's research VP Dr. Sy Stokes unpack some of the key findings of the "Strangers at Home: The Asian and Asian American Professional Experience" report published in January '23 by COQUAL.
Writer Qin Sun Stubis was one of four daughters born to a poor couple in China during some of the most culturally and politcally trying times. Her newly published book "Once Our Lives" is a historical memoir that tells the stories of four generations of women in her family, including herself.
After taking a few weeks to allow the loss of my wife Snoopy (8/15/56) to sink in fully, I'm back on the air with this latest in The Two Kens series because I trusted my good friend and fellow podcasters Ken Kemp to prompt me to talk about how I'm grieving and how we're planning to give her a moving sendoff in early August. Her memorial service will be livestreamed on EBCLA's YouTube channel on Aug 12th @ 10AM. If you've been on this journey with us, I think you'll experience a great amount of closure by tuning in live or by watching the recording of the service or the two videos of her life that I'm creating. I'll probably post her videos on both my personl and podcast FB pages.
Angel Wu is understandably outraged that her well-educated, Christian Taiwanese American mother fell headlong into the Q-Anon/Anti-Vax rabbit hole. Convinced that John F. Kennedy, Jr., was alive and well and living on a remote island, she refused to be vaccinated. So when she caught COVID-19, it killed her. This is a part of the conspiracy story that rarely gets told. But Angel was mad enough and brave enough to shed some needed light on it.
Actor Chen Tang is back as the irrepressible Chinese hitman "Hong" in the MAX series Warrior. Originally created by Cinemax and based on Bruce Lee's original writings, the first two seasons garnered rave reviews and spawned a rabid fanbase. But when Cinemax decided that it would no longer fund original programming, Warrior seemed to have hit a dead end. However, MAX (formerly known as HBO Max) quickly saw that this series first two seasons were hugely popular on their platform, so they reunited the Warrior team, rebuilt 19th century Chinatown set in South Africa, and Season 3 is now set to launch on June 29th! Every aspect of this show is top-shelf, which is why I've been a longtime fan and why I'm so excited to see what's in store for this new season.
Therapist, writer and world traveller Sharon Kwon returns to my podcast in light of her April Slate article "The Most Emotional Scene in Beef Gets at a Deeper Truth" (https://slate.com/culture/2023/04/beef-netflix-steven-yeun-korean-church.html). Growing up as a child of a pastor of a Korean American church, Sharon experienced conflicting emotions watching the numerous scenes that were in this setting. I also saw this as an opportunity to ask her watch she thinks about the now-controversial casting of David Choe to play "Isaac" in this popular Netflix show. You can follow Sharon on Instagram @talkwithsharon and you can also visit her website (www.sharonkwon.com).
I recorded this conversation for last year's Pride Month, but as a favor to my guest and former graduate student Ian Shen, I held off posting it until he was ready for his heartfelt journey to be shared around the world on my platform. He chose this year's Pride Month for me to release his episode. It was totally worth the wait.
In this latest edition of a collaborative episode between podcasters Fong and Kemp, we tackle the White Innocence problem, taking turns reading a recent Op Ed in the LA Times by UNC law professor Osamudia James, and then Kemp opens up about how he came to reject his own embrace of White Innocence.
Veteran actor Francis Jue stars in the Audible Original production of Good Enemy by the remarkable young playwright Yilong Liu. Jue plays Howard, the immigrant Chinese American father of a young adult daughter who has grown tired of trying to get him to share about his past. Why has he always been so secretive? What will it take for him to take his daughter into his confidence?
Unlike most of us, Al Nakatani knows for a fact that he only has months left to live. But rather than feeling sorry for himself as he now is in managed hospice care, Al is using his remaining time to identify and thank the various people that have helped him grow as a person. And to my surprise, that included me.
Back in 2006 Gene Luen Yang created the graphic novel "American Born Chinese," a 3-part story of a Chinese American teenager who's trying to gain acceptance at school while dealing with the mystical occurrences surrounding his life. His book has won many awards and has long been required reading in many schools. In this special episode, Gene and I reunite to hear how his now-seventeen-year-old book is about to launch May 24th on Disney+ starring two Academy Award-winning actors!
Jon Ido Warden didn't get married until he was 38. His wife knew she was marrying an athlete and someone who actively served others in the name of Christ. But after a year, he began to experience health problems which ultimately led to a grim diagnosis of a chronic disease tied to his auto immune system. The doctors forecast that he wouldn't live more than five years, but it's now been 27 years! Much like rust on metal, his disease has continued to slowly eat away at his remaining vigor, keeping him more and more at home. While Jon has yet to experience a divine healing of his body, he is quick to testify that God's Spirit has healed and transformed his soul.
In coming together to create On This Side of the World, Tirol and Shapiro connected deeply to the experiences of countless Filipino Americans who flew over 7,000 miles to start new lives in America. Produced by East West Players in partnership with FilAm ARTS, this wonderful new musical makes its world premiere at the David Henry Hwang Theater in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles, from May 11 - June 4. For show times and tickets please visit www.eastwestplayers.org.
Tyler Ransom is a young Black-Filipino American singer/songwriter and guitarist who's managed to compete in mixed martial arts and carve out a trajectory as a professional musician, despite being saddled with kidney disease. Check out the documentary about his journey at www.intheshedfilm.com and listen to his music on either www.tylerransom.com or any music streaming platform.
Tim Hwang just turned 31 this past February, and he's already the youngest Asian American founder and CEO on NYSE/NASDAQ! His experiences working on the first Obama campaign actually taught him many of the critical lessons for creating a business startup. By applying those lessons, he and his two long-time friends created Fiscal Note, a global technology and media company focused on delivering timely and relevant policy information in a complex and evolving world.
In Skull Water, Heinz Insu Fenkl has crafted a uniquely autobiographical novel based on his experiences growing up as a German/Korean child in postwar Korea. Incorporating his vast knowledge of Korean folktales, Buddhist karma, daoism, and the ancient Chinese I Ching Book of Changes, Fenkl has created an engaging, unpredictable storyline, and our conversation gave him a chance to reveal how Skull Water came to life.
In this latest edition of the collaborative Two Kens Podcast, Kemp and I focused on what we are thinking about the unprecedented indictment and arraignment of former POTUS Donald Trump. I also use this episode's Intro to share a few brief thoughts about the GOP's expulsion of members Justin Jones and Justin Pearson.
In his latest book "Preparing for War: The Extremist History of White Christian Nationalism and What Comes Next," Dr. Brad Onishi, who teaches at the University of San Francisco and co-hosts the hugely popular podcast "Straight White American Jesus," offers us a "...clear-eyed, compelling study of the road to Jan. 6 and the possible future of the politics-versus-religion battle in the U.S." (Kirkus Reviews). In this interview I asked him to focus on the powerful and increasingly pervasive myth that motivates White Christian Nationalists, as well as the sizable migration of WCNs from Blue States to heavily Red States.