October, Again

October is, among other things, Filipin@ American Heritage Month, Medical Librarian Month, and Family History Month. I know because I’ve received separate emails about each one, suggesting ways to celebrate/commemorate/spread the good news. So if anyone out there knows a Filipin@ American medical librarian, I’d love to help him/her with a genealogical or archival family history project. Just to make sure I’ve covered all my bases.

This is where I should put the winky face, right? So that you know I’m being tongue in cheek?

October is filled with some seriously good cultural groups vying for attention.

Joe Bataan at Yoshi’s Oakland

I wish I could be here:


From Yoshi’s website:

Boogaloo, Latin Soul, Rhythm and Blues, Salsa, Disco, Latin Funk, Latin R&B Latin Jazz, Rap …. What didn’t Joe Bataan sing? Joe Bataan was born and raised in Spanish Harlem (East Side of Manhattan New York) in 1942 to an African-American mother and Filipino father. His given name was Bataan Nitollano…

…Self taught on the piano, he organized his first band in 1965 and scored his first recording success in 1967 with ” Gypsy Woman ” on Fania Records. ” Gypsy Woman ” crossed over to R&B radio along with ” Subway Joe ” The title track of Gypsy Woman was first aired by radio DJ Dick “Ricardo” Sugar, became an instant hit in New York’s Latin community. Ironically, Mr. Bataan had initially written the song ” Gypsy Woman” with Spanish lyrics for the band’s co-lead vocalist Joe Pagan to perform. It didn’t seem to work, so he started singing the song himself in English at gigs and received an enthusiastic reaction. The late George Goldner, boss of the Cotique label (a rival of Fania at the time), disapproved of Bataan’s rendition and advised him against recording it. Clearly, Joe’s refusal to take this advice proved to be the sounder judgment.

Out of the Archives: The Nisei Melodians Dance Band

Today’s edition of Out of the Archives is taken from Densho, an all digital (and in archive terminology post-custodial) archive on Japanese Americans, with a strong focus on the Japanese Internment during  World War II. They work right here in Seattle, WA, so there’s some pretty cool Pacific Northwest Stuff, including this:

nisei melodians

Nisei Melodians Dance Band

Date: c. 1935
Location: Seattle, Washington

Courtesy of the Tsubota Family Collection
[Show technical information]

Densho ID: denshopd-p105-00006

Time: 1930-1939
Place: Seattle, Washington


Direct link: http://archive.densho.org/Resource/popupenlarged.aspx?i=denshopd-p105-00006&t=Nisei+Melodians+Dance+Band

More on Densho, from their website:

Densho’s mission is to preserve the testimonies of Japanese Americans who were unjustly incarcerated during World War II before their memories are extinguished. We offer these irreplaceable firsthand accounts, coupled with historical images and teacher resources, to explore principles of democracy and promote equal justice for all.

The Densho Digital Archive holds more than 700 visual histories (more than 1,400 hours of recorded video interviews) and over 12,000 historic photos, documents, and newspapers. The archive is growing as Densho continues to record life histories and collect images and records. These primary sources document the Japanese American experience from immigration in the early 1900s through redress in the 1980s with a strong focus on the World War II mass incarceration.

We provide these resources to students, teachers, researchers, and the general public for educational purposes. The video interviews are fully transcribed and segmented for ease of viewing. The interviews and images are indexed by topic, location and chronology, and can be searched using keywords. Visit the Learning Center for contextual historical background, downloadable curriculum, and online exhibitions featuring interview clips, documents, and photos excerpted from the archive.

Music For a Friday: School of Seven Bells

I first heard School of Seven Bells live, opening for Temper Trap, and was entranced through the whole set. Even before the set was over, I had resolved to invest in their music. Weeks later, I’m still trying to figure out which album to download. At least they has made it as far as Music for a Friday. That’s progress.

They have a light, electronic sound that reminds me of ABBA, except that there is no disco involved. Their groove in this song reminds me a little bit of Passion Pit and a little bit of little children singing rounds of “Row Row Row Your Boat”. This is Windstorm, off their album “Disconnect from Desire”:


Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are

This week, someone told me that Anderson Cooper came out to the entire world. And I said “Yeah, like three years ago!” Turns out it was just my imagination. In more surprising news, a young hip hop/r+b singer named Frank Ocean posted on his Tumblr about his first love/first heartbreak. Who was also a man.

To both these men, I say thank you, for for honesty when silence is the easy way out. Many of us modern Americans are jaded enough to wonder if celebrities choose when to come out, not to soften the blow, but to maximize their announcement’s publicity potential.

True, Frank Ocean has an album debuting soon. True, I have heard more buzz about his sexuality than his music. Still, I think he did a brave thing. Hip hop, rap, r+b, none of these genres are queer friendly. Ocean’s post isn’t a clear “I’m here and I’m queer!” pronouncement, but its far more than we’ve ever gotten from any of his musical peers. It’s not the beginning of a new world. Imagining this as the beginning of a hip-hop-coming-out-landslide is a bit far fetched. To expect him to be a more than an honest singer is unreasonable.

Still, it’s a pretty big f-ing deal. Hats off, Frank Ocean. Here’s your music video. Not the one from “Swim Well” where you’re in an orange robe that may or may not be a reference to monks’ saffron robes, swinging around a ninja sword. Not that one, because random Asia-philia is still circumspect. Here’s a different one:


Music for a Friday: The Temper Trap

It’s been a while since we listened to music together. The song for this week, because I just saw them live, comes from the Temper Trap. Their energy was off the charts and the lead singer looks Asian. I’ve heard it said he’s Indonesian, but haven’t checked that against and official source. The song for the week, off their first album, is Down River: