Loving Loving Day

Today, June 12th, is Loving Day, the day that interracial marriage was legalized in the U.S. It marks the Supreme Court's decision to allow Richard and Mildred Loving to marry with the 1967 case of Loving v. Virginia.

Prior to that, widespread marriage between people considered to be of different "races" (mostly white or black ) could not marry. There were exceptions, though: interracial marriages such as that of my own grandfather and grandmother were allowed, as Latinos, even if they were very dark-skinned, were racially categorized by the Census as white.


There was also a lot of mixed white and Asian marriages before 1967, especially on the West Coast and in Hawaii.

Today, around forty years later, there are many mixed or multi-racial Americans that are visible and lauded in the media. Soledad O'Brien's family is one of them, and is Jessica Alba's family.

This is part of the family portrait of America. Gotta love Loving Day!

Mechanomorphism, or biking Los Angeles

I did the LA River Ride this past Sunday, and it was an incredible experience. Sure, the event was fun, but the best part was the astonishing realization I had while riding. Somewhere around Hollenbeck Park, I thought…my body can be a machine.

It was mechanomorphism, along the LA River.

Growing up in Los Angeles, the car was always the way in which I knew my environment. That changed a little bit as I got into running as a teenager, but the extent of those journeys was four or five miles. Not twenty. It was exhilarating to bike along the river and see what I had (actually) never seen before up close: the flora and fauna of the river, the cute little homesteads along it, replete with fruit trees and roosters. I had never known there were birds in the LA River, much less how physically close the arts-y area of Los Feliz is to hard-struck northeast LA neighborhoods like Lincoln Heights. It was cool to actually see who lived there, and share the same bike path as residents as they went on their morning walks.

It was almost like touring some sort of living museum of revitalized Los Angeles, powered by your own two legs. When you cross a street with your body, you can feel distance and proximity in a way that the media, education, or curriculum can never teach you. You see that old Filipino janitors go to the same McDonalds as old white farmers, and they both like pancakes on Sundays.

That’s what’s radical about this exercise: seeing – and BEING – in your city in a whole new way. Inhabiting space that was formerly deemed uninhabitable.

Crossing Cesar Chavez Avenue, I felt so free and so light! Not at all like I did when I commuted; I wasn’t burning any money, only calories. And the Downtown buildings looked so majestic and tall. You somehow see things more clearly on a bike, even though you’re stripped away of the steel protection of a car. So much of Los Angeles is about filtration – from movie screen to viewer, from driver to car window.

Without a filter, being in the city is a much more intimate and enjoyable experience.

It creates this inspiring confidence, powering yourself over streets that are normally only traversed by cars. You create evidence that it is possible to mechanize our society in new ways – power ourselves off of oxygen, and not foreign (or national!) oil. We don’t have to dump money into a fixture that clogs our transportation system and ruins our health. Besides, if there was ever a bike-able major urban metropolis, it’s probably this one. The weather is temperate, and the LA Basin is mostly flat.

So in the city of Bladerunner, the most radical thing you can do is simply go back to the future: a car-less future.

It’s a privilege to know the city you’re from, and really understand its history from tree trunk to skyscraper to home to riverbed. Los Angeles is a cool place, especially if you take the time to know about it. It’s good to see each other, and see our city, more clearly. And if more and more people do this sort of thing, maybe the new generation of Angelenas (thirty years my junior) can see things differently.

This is Temple City

My hometown is Temple City, CA, a sunny place about 15 miles east of Downtown LA. Temple City is a small, sweet town in which the residents don't always know what to say to each other. Sometimes it's because they truly don't know what to say, and sometimes it's because not everyone speaks the other's languages. Temple City is 60% Asian, and many older Chinese residents only speak Mandarin.

This scene from New Girl basically is Temple City to me. It's the town acting itself out, if it could. With the silence and the laughter and the absurdity and the serendipity. It just is Temple City.

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  It isn't easy to be emerging. Emerging, linguistically, doesn't mean arrived. It means coming. Still happening. Making a living about developing ideas in a developing economy isn't turn-key. Or is it?

There isn't a match or mentor for what you want to do. And that's challenging. You think "where's the matchpoint?" "Where's the model?" And there isn't one.

Millenials are building edu-tanks. We're making socially focused LLCs and U.S. based companies whose prime buyers are abroad.

But that, as a colleague at Harvard once said to me, is a "learning opportunity."

Beautiful, Bu-ti-ful: The Culture of Facebook

It's everything we wanted: to be constantly, and universally, told we're beautiful.

Facebook is the most popular platform in the world during a time in which its users are at their most physically beautiful. On it, twenty and thirty-somethings post pictures of their recreation, their child rearing, their rear ends. And the most common reaction is, "Beautiful!"

Millenial life is now a digital theater of gorgeous people, and its culture of praise makes people feel, in the words of Rihanna, like they're the "only girl in the world."

Beauty, like everything else, reaches a point of diminishing returns, and that'll happen soon on Facebook. In a couple years, the commentary might not matter as much.

But as of now, it does. And why would it not? It builds self-esteem, and builds community.

Larry David said it best: Whatever works. At the end of the day,  it's all beautiful, bu-ti-ful.

In the Land of the Underemployed

Back home in L.A. over the holidays, I re-discovered what the term "consumer heaven" means. The world is On Sale. Houses, cars, ear muffs, high heels.


Signs say all types of things. Signs say:

Grey Goose, $26.99
Jeans, $17.99
Sweaters, $7.99
Shoes, $6.99

In the Land of the Underemployed, everything is happening right now. (Either right now-right now, or later-later.) This is Ground Zero of the Stimulus Bill efforts; twenty percent unemployment, and that doesn't take into account those ‘underemployed’ UC Berkeley graduates who do work, but at a shoe store.

This is what the world looks like after the Bubble has burst; this is, without credit, what people can actually afford.

So, what can we expect, post-Crash and pre-gain? I can expect to buy these Fashion Sunglasses in my trusty undergraduate place of employment - ValuMart discount food warehouse - for $2.99.

And what's that like?

Noir, but nice!

Commodify My Dissent?

Turns out the revolution IS being televised; people are Auto-Tuning the news but no one knows how to make any money off of it. People make music, but don't sell CD's; make digital art that will never be bought, and contribute to the Creative Commons for the collective benefit of the Internet.

Too bad own their wallets don't benefit.

How can we commodify our dissent if we don't know how to monetize our work? How can we make new ideas and art forms valuable if their market value doesn't exist?

I mean, hell; I can't even make money off of this blog...