Wuhan Doctor Speaks Out Against China For Censoring Her Coronavirus Warnings In December 2019

After the passing of many of her colleagues from coronavirus (COVID-19), a doctor in Wuhan is now openly criticizing Chinese health authorities for keeping the early warnings of the outbreak from the public.

Wuhan Central hospital emergency department head Ai Fen spoke out about state censors have reportedly been trying to scrub the internet. 

Speaking with Chinese magazine Renwu, Ai Fen revealed that she was reprimanded December for trying to alert her superiors of a “SARS-like virus” seen in patients.

The novel coronavirus has since killed over 3,000 people in China, including four of her colleagues at her hospital.

At the risk of losing her job and landing in jail, Ai has joined other critics in putting the Chinese government to task for its handling of the outbreak.

“If I had known what was to happen, I would not have cared about the reprimand. I would have fucking talked about it to whoever, where ever I could,” she said in the interview released on Tuesday.

Immediately after Ai’s interview was posted and shared online, it was removed from Chinese social media sites. Even the online magazine that hosted the interview has removed the article.

But as the censors worked to do the cleanup, some Chinese social media users were able to save the article, and now screenshots of the article are being shared in creative ways.

In their bid to evade censors, some users posted versions written in emojis and even Morse codes. There’s also a version done in pinyin, the Romanization system for Mandarin.

Based on the article, Ai received the lab results of a case containing the word “SARS coronavirus” on December 30. She felt nervous after reviewing the report as she has previously seen several patients with flu-like symptoms and resistant to usual treatment methods.

She took a photo of the report with the word “SARS” circled and sent it to a doctor at another hospital in Wuhan. 

The image immediately spread within the medical community in Wuhan overnight. Among those who saw it was Li Wenliang, the doctor who eventually became a whistleblower when his warnings were later shared publicly on WeChat.

According to Ai, she received a message from her hospital that night warning her against sharing information about the disease to the public as it would cause panic. 

She was then summoned and reprimanded for “spreading rumors” and “harming stability” by the head of the hospital’s disciplinary inspection committee two days later.

As even the hospital staff were prohibited from discussing anything related to the virus, Ai asked her staff to wear protective clothing and masks despite hospital authorities telling them not to. She also instructed staff in her department to wear protective jackets under their doctor coats.

“We watched more and more patients come in as the radius of the spread of infection became larger,” she was quoted as saying.

They soon noticed the influx of patients without any connection to the seafood market, which was thought to be the source of the original cases.

While Ai already observed at the time that there must be human to human transmission, Chinese authorities maintain that there was no reason to believe the virus was being passed between people. 

It was not until January 21 when the Chinese officials finally confirmed that there was human to human transmission of the virus. The number of patients coming to the emergency room was already over 1,500 per day, which was three times the normal number of cases.

Ai said that over the last few months, she saw many of her colleagues fall sick and four die from the virus, including Li Wenliang.

Source: NextShark

Diet Prada Is Getting Sued By Dolce & Gabanna For $4.7 Million After Exposing Racist Comments

Fashion industry watchdog Diet Prada is raising funds on GoFundMe to defend itself against a defamation lawsuit from Dolce & Gabbana.

The legal battle stems from a series of ads released by the fashion house in 2018, which featured an Asian model “struggling” to eat Italian food with chopsticks.

The ads were part of Dolce & Gabbana’s China campaign. Soon after their launch, Diet Prada criticized the brand for “painting their target demographic as a tired and false stereotype of a people lacking refinement or culture.”

“#DGlovesChina? More like #DGdesperateforthatChineseRMB lol,” the Instagram watchdog wrote at the time.

Aside from the questionable ads, Diet Prada also exposed a disturbing conversation between founder Stefano Gabbana and an Instagram user. In it, Gabbana called China “the country of sh*t.”

Dolce & Gabbana immediately faced a heavy backlash. Chinese celebrities began dropping out of an upcoming show in Shanghai, resulting in its cancellation.

In the wake of Diet Prada’s exposé, Dolce & Gabbana released a statement announcing that its Instagram page — as well as Gabbana’s — had been hacked. An internal investigation was reportedly conducted.

“We are very sorry for any distress caused by these unauthorized posts. We have nothing but respect for China and the people of China,” the label said.

However, many refused to believe the company’s claims. The outrage took a turn for the worse, involving industry professionals and other Chinese personalities.

But the situation seemed far from over. In early 2019, Dolce & Gabbana reportedly filed a defamation lawsuit against Diet Prada, seeking 4 million euros ($4.7 million) in damages (3 million euros for the brand and 1 million euro for Gabbana).

“With so much anti-Asian hate spreading in the U.S., it feels wrong to continue to remain silent about a lawsuit that threatens our freedom of speech. We are a small company co-founded by a person of color, trying to speak out against racism in our own community,” Diet Prada wrote in a new post.

Fashion Law Institute, a nonprofit based at Fordham Law School, is reportedly coordinating Diet Prada’s defense through its pro bono clinic. It is also collaborating with Italian law firm AMSL Avvocati, which “graciously agreed” to represent the defendant at a reduced rate.

Diet Prada filed its defense on Monday. The watchdog is now asking the public for financial help through a GoFundMe page.

“We need your help more than ever to raise funds to cover law firm costs, filing fees, and other legal expenses,” Diet Prada wrote. “Going up against a large luxury brand is daunting, but your contribution means we can continue protecting our fundamental rights, but also preserve what is so special about the Diet Prada community.”

Source: NextShark

Panda Express Workers Forced To Strip In ‘Cult-Like’ Team-Building Seminar; 23-Year-Old Woman Sues For Sexual Battery, Hostile Work Environment, And Intentional Infliction Of Emotional Distress

A former employee of a Panda Express in Santa Clarita alleges she was required to strip down to her underwear and hug a partially clad co-worker during a “cult-like ritual” at a 2019 training seminar sponsored by the company as a prerequisite to promotion.

The 23-year-old woman is suing Panda Restaurant Group, headquartered in Rosemead, and Alive Seminars and Coaching Academy in Pico Rivera for sexual battery, a hostile work environment and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

She is seeking unspecified damages in the lawsuit filed last month in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

Although the woman is named in court documents, the Southern California News Group does not identify suspected victims of  sexual assault.

‘Horrific psychological abuse’

“We are looking forward to presenting this case to a jury so that a clear message can be sent to Panda Express — which owns and operates over 2,000 restaurants — that it must put to an end to its practice of requiring its employees to undergo horrific psychological abuse and harassment to be promoted,” Oscar Ramirez, the woman’s attorney, said in an email Monday.

Officials with Panda Restaurant Group said the company takes the woman’s allegations seriously and has conducted an investigation.

“Alive Seminars and Coaching Academy is a third-party organization in which Panda has no ownership interest and over which it exercises no control,” says a statement from the company. “While we always encourage personal growth and development, Panda Restaurant Group has not and does not mandate that any associate participate in Alive Seminars and Coaching Academy nor is it a requirement to earn promotions.

“We are committed to providing a safe environment for all associates and stand behind our core values to treat each person with respect,” the company said. “We do not condone the kind of behavior (the plaintiff) has alleged took place at Alive Seminars and Coaching Academy, and we would not intentionally allow it to occur within or on behalf of our organization.”

In an emailed statement, Alive Seminars said its training sessions are presented with respect and dignity.

The victim says she began working for Panda Express in 2016 and was told in July 2019 by then store manager Matthiu Simuda she needed to complete a self-improvement seminar conducted by Alive Seminars.

“Eager to improve her skills and advance within the company, plaintiff signed up and paid out of pocket to attend a four-day program,” the lawsuit says. “Panda Express pushed its employees in the Los Angeles region to complete Alive Seminars training. In many cases, it was a prerequisite to promotion.”

The seminar was held in a warehouse in East Los Angeles and attended by 20 to 50 Panda Express employees from throughout Southern California, Ramirez said. Those who attended the seminar were required to provide their employee identification numbers and received intake materials with the Panda logo.

“Alive Seminars served — in essence — as an extension of Panda Express’ own Human Resources department,” says the lawsuit.

Participants isolated, treated as ‘terrorists’

The complaint alleges the seminar was bizarre and quickly devolved into psychological abuse.

At the start, attendees were told to sit down and not talk, and were left in isolation for a full hour before a man stormed in, yelling in Spanish and berating them for sitting there and doing nothing, when that is exactly what they had been instructed to do, says the complaint.

The man, an Alive Seminars employee, loudly proclaimed that the attendees were “nothing” and “don’t matter,” and berated them individually, the suit says. “The overall effect was that of a particularly nasty drill sergeant.”

Seminar participants were prohibited from using their cellphones, there was no clock in the room and the doors and windows were all covered with black cloth.

“The atmosphere resembled less a self-improvement seminar than a site for off the-books interrogation of terrorist suspects,” the complaint alleges. “The sensory isolation and intimidation was reinforced by constant yelling and verbal abuse by seminar staff, creating an atmosphere of fear in the room. Nevertheless, most attendees, including plaintiff, felt that they had no choice but to remain because they were sent to the seminar by Panda Express and told that their opportunity for promotion would depend on completion of the seminar.”

Participants required to strip

When the seminar continued on July 13, 2019, the woman allegedly was forced to strip down to her underwear under the guise of trust building.

“Plaintiff — stripped almost naked in front of strangers and co-workers — was extremely uncomfortable but pressed on because she knew it was her only chance at a promotion,” says the lawsuit. “Meanwhile, Alive Seminars staff were openly ogling the women in their state of undress, smiling, and laughing.”

The exercise culminated when the victims and other participants had to stand up to yell about their inner struggles until everyone else in the group believed them.

“The last male participant had some difficulty ‘convincing’ the others and, as a result, broke down in tears,” the suit says. “Plaintiff was told to stand up and go to the middle of the room with the male participant, where they were forced to ‘hug it out,’ wearing nothing but their underwear. Plaintiff was humiliated but did as she was told.”

Seminar resembled cult ritual

As time went on, the seminar more and more resembled a cult ritual, the complaint alleges.

“Alive Seminars staff proceeded to dim the lights,” says the suit. “Plaintiff and the other attendees were instructed to stand up and close their eyes, pretending that a light from above would come down and take all the ‘negative energy’ out of them, then pretend that a hole opened up in the ground and swallowed the ‘negative energy.’ While this was happening, one of the Alive Seminars staff had a cell phone with the light on, recording plaintiff in her state of undress.”

Attendees, the lawsuit alleges, were confined in an atmosphere of fear and intimidation.

“If plaintiff wanted to use the restroom, someone from the Alive Seminars staff would stand outside the restroom door,” says the suit. “When another participant ran into the restroom to throw up, Alive Seminars staff ran after her. Another male participant was only given a small trash can to throw up in and was forced to do it in front of all the other attendees.”

During the July 13 session, the victim made an excuse of a family emergency and left the seminar.

The victim went to the seminar hopeful and optimistic about her future with Panda Express but left three days later “scarred and downtrodden.” Soon after, she quit her job because of emotional distress.

The suit alleges Panda Express “did not care about plaintiff’s experience at Alive Seminars or that she had been humiliated in front of her co-workers. Her chances of promotion were destroyed. plaintiff’s working conditions had become intolerable and Panda Express had no interest in addressing the situation.”

Source: OC Register

Anti-Asian Tweets Surface After Teen Vogue Hires New Editor-In-Chief Alexi McCammond

Social media users are calling for the removal of Teen Vogue’s new editor-in-chief after her anti-Asian tweets from as early as 2011 resurfaced.

Alexi McCammond, who was most recently a reporter for Axios, will take on the editorial role from March 24, according to publisher Condé Nast.

“Alexi has the powerful curiosity and confidence that embodies the best of our next generation of leaders,” Anna Wintour, global editorial director of Vogue and chief content officer of Condé Nast, said in a news release on Thursday.

“Her interest in fashion, wellness and important issues in the lives of the Teen Vogue audience and broad knowledge of business leaders, elected officials, influencers, photographers and filmmakers is unrivaled, and I’m so very pleased that she will be bringing her expertise and talents to our team.”

Following the announcement, several Instagram users brought up some of McCammond’s racist tweets from 2011 and 2012.

“Outdone by Asian,” she wrote in one tweet, adding the hashtag “#whatsnew.”

Diana Tsui, editorial director of restaurant guide The Infatuation, described McCammond as a “questionable hire” in an Instagram post. She mentioned that Condé Nast should have addressed McCammond’s problematic past, especially since her appointment comes amid a rise in anti-Asian violence across the country.

“Maybe we can give her some benefit of the doubt as these were done when she was still a student,” Tsui wrote. “But her ‘apology,’ which was only after people caught them in 2019, referred to them as ‘deeply insensitive.’ They are insensitive, they are racist.”

“Teen Vogue has positioned itself as a champion of inclusiveness and empowerment. Is this truly a leader who also embodies these beliefs?” Tsui asks. “Would a leader pre-emptively acknowledge the hurt caused by past actions with a future plan of action, or would a leader just ignore it and hope no one does a Google search?”

Stephen Alain Ko, a cosmetic and skincare formulator who has featured Teen Vogue articles in his website’s #BeautyRecap series, also criticized McCammond’s appointment on Instagram: “Condé Nast, this is not the fashion, beauty or political leadership we deserve… In 2021, I would be disappointed in a magazine that I contributed free labour to — for making a decision that pushed me back into the margins.”

Writer Arabelle Sicardi also took a jab at Condé Nast. “It’s like they want to fail into obsolescence,” she wrote in an Instagram Story. 

Sicardi, who has contributed to Teen Vogue, went on to highlight the prevalence of anti-Asian sentiment in the fashion and media industry. She described McCammond’s hiring as “an affirmation of white supremacy.”

“It is a distinct lack of care for the Asian employees and other people of color that will have to work under new management.”

Source: NextShark

Voice Of Baceprot Are The Metal Band The World Needs Right Now – An All-Female Muslim Metal Band Based Out Of Rural Conservative Indonesia

In 2014, in a classroom in rural Indonesia, three schoolgirls fell in love with metal. During an extra-curricular arts programme at their school in Garut, West Java, Firdda Marsya Kurnia (vocals and guitar), Widi Rahmawati (bass), and Euis Siti Aisyah (drums), then aged 14, were introduced to metal by their school guidance counsellor, Ahba Erza.

Immediately, the teenagers were drawn to the “unique and beautiful” lyricism of System Of A Down, and “rebellious” spirit of bands such as Rage Against The MachineLamb Of God and Red Hot Chili Peppers. Before long, they had formed Voice Of Baceprot, (the word ‘Baceprot’ means ‘loud’ in Sundanese) and were making their own incendiary racket. Their 2018 single, School Revolution, is a fiery blend of elastic bass and furious RATM-indebted thrash.

Emerging as an all-female, Muslim metal band in a conservative community in West Java has posed its own challenges however. The girls have received death threats, while Ahba, who is now their manager, has received calls pressuring him to break up the band. The trio spoke to Metal Hammer about overcoming these challenges and demolishing cultural and gender norms.

Marsya [lead guitar / vocals]: “Every year the metal scene in Indonesia keeps on developing and growing. There’s a bunch of bands all genders and ages, a lot of Indonesians are familiar with metal music and there are a lot of local metal bands in Indonesia.

Euis [drummer]: “There are women that play rock and metal. It’s there, the amount is relative, but there are more and more women playing in Indonesia.”

Can you remember your first gig?

“The first performance was a school event, a farewell concert and it was the first time our parents saw us perform. They school we went to was a pretty religious Islamic school, when we performed, everyone was pretty shocked.”

Shocked in what sense?

Marsya: “[Our parents] didn’t explicitly show their support or forbid us from playing music. Deep down, we knew that they were actually proud of us. Perhaps a little bit worried. They did prohibit us from playing music after [our first show], but we carried on regardless and didn’t think too much of it. [The band practised in secret for a year after their first gig following reservations from their parents.] We never thought about packing it in or taking a step back. As time went by, we realised that the lack of support from our parents and community played a huge role in fortifying our mental strength, and the resolve that we have in proving that our music does not negatively affect our morals.”

You have faced challenges in your own country, and even death threats for playing metal. How did you deal with that?

“They were just comments made on social media. We were a bit scared at first, but we just put our heads down and focused back on our music. As the cliché goes, what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. We get a lot of curse words and people saying you should stop playing. They want us to stop playing music. For the most part, people are saying that stuff because we’re women, but we’re not scared to say what’s on our mind. A lot of people don’t like that. If we were men maybe we wouldn’t get such a hard time. Music gives us such a great joy that’s why we want to continue to play. So we are focusing on our music and screw the others!”

What is your single School Revolution about?

“When students start to feel lost and so far detached from their hopes and dreams for the sake of following rigid school rules, we believe that it is simply another form of subjection. This is based on our own experience; from what we felt, the discussions that we had with Abah, and what we’ve read from many books. School was a big part of our lives at that time. It was the place where most teenagers spend their adolescence. Schools should be a just and fair space that is able to accommodate the hopes and dreams of its students.”

What are other themes and messages in your music?

Widi [bassist]: “The main message is about freedom. Independence as a woman, as a human being, and we write a lot about human values and humanity as well. What we’re trying to do is continue traditions, speak our mind and share our music with other people.”

Source: Metal Hammer AKA Louder Sound

The Muddled History Of Anti-Asian Violence

Recently, fears of another wave of anti-Asian violence have arisen following a string of viral videos depicting attacks against Asian Americans. In late January, a clip circulated of Vicha Ratanapakdee, an eighty-four-year-old man originally from Thailand, being assaulted as he walked down a street in San Francisco. He died days later. Around this time, another clip, showing a ninety-one-year-old Asian man in Oakland’s Chinatown being shoved to the ground while walking down the street, made the rounds. The actors Daniel Dae Kim and Daniel Wu offered rewards for information on the assailants. A few days later, Kim, Wu, and the activist Amanda Nguyen appeared on MSNBC, in part to chastise the mainstream media for being slow to cover these attacks. Even as outlets began reporting on these videos, attacks continued: a Filipino-American man’s face was slashed in New York; a Korean-American man was beaten in Los Angeles’s Koreatown while assailants shouted slurs at him. About a week ago, another viral clip circulated, this one of a fifty-two-year-old Asian-American woman being shoved to the ground in Flushing, Queens.

For some Asian Americans, the videos provided proof of what they have been feeling for some time, namely, that they are increasingly targeted on the basis of their appearance. But within this was a sense that their concerns would never be taken seriously. In the cases of the San Francisco and Oakland attacks, some officials, and even local community members, questioned whether these attacks were random rather than racially motivated. The attacker captured in the Queens video was released, and no hate-crime charges were brought against him. Beyond pressing for media coverage, however, the demands around what to do next were sometimes contradictory. Calls for more protection in Asian neighborhoods struck critics of police brutality as the wrong answer; in particular, Kim and Lee’s so-called bounties were perceived to undermine the efforts of Asian-American organizers already working toward community-oriented solutions to public safety. Villainizing the suspects, at least two of whom were Black, seemed to play into racist narratives of inner-city crime. Some felt dismayed that Black and brown community leaders had not rushed to the defense of Asian Americans; others claimed that such standards construed the fight for justice as quid pro quo. Calls to center and protect Asian “elders” drew criticism for playing into a respectability politics that casts a kindly grandma or grandpa as a sympathetic, innocent victim. I saw someone on Instagram acerbically wonder whether these were the same elders whom we had recently been urged to lecture about their racism?

Visibility matters. Yet obsessing over it sometimes obscures the long-standing challenges of organizing Asian Americans around a single, shared story. It’s difficult to describe anti-Asian racism when society lacks a coherent, historical account of what that racism actually looks like. The parameters of activism often get defined by hashtags—#StopAAPIHate, #ProtectOurElders, #NotYourModelMinority—rather than a sense of history. In the age of Black Lives Matter, the desire to carve out a crisp, pithy position is greater than ever. But the past weeks’ conversations have illustrated how the Asian-American experience doesn’t always fit neatly into conventional understandings of victimhood.

For decades, Asian people in America tended to identify more with their own nationality and ethnicity than with a broad Asian-American community. But, in the sixties and seventies, a more inclusive sense of Asian-American identity grew out of a desire for political solidarity. This new identity assumed a kind of cross-generational ethos, as younger people forged connections with older immigrants, helping them to navigate social services and to understand their rights. And it found clarity through collective struggle, as when, in 1977, in San Francisco, Asian-American community organizers, aided by a multiracial coalition of allies, came to the defense of a group of elderly Asians, mostly Filipino men, who were being evicted from their longtime homes in the I-Hotel. But the real turning point came in 1982, when two white men, one of whom had been laid off from his job as an autoworker, followed Vincent Chin, a young Chinese-American draftsman, from a Detroit bar to a nearby McDonald’s and beat him to death. Witnesses said that the three had initially fought at the bar, and that during the altercation the men had allegedly mistaken Chin for Japanese and blamed him for the American auto industry’s decline. The men later claimed that it was a fight that had gotten out of hand, and that they were not motivated by Chin’s race. They were given probation and fined. The lenient sentencing sparked a national campaign against anti-Asian racism and inspired an Oscar-nominated documentary, “Who Killed Vincent Chin?”

In contrast to racism against other groups, anti-Asian racism has rarely been as gruesome and blatant as it was in the Chin killing. There have of course been other violent incidents, like the “Chinese massacre” that occurred in Los Angeles, in 1871, or the Sikh-temple shooting in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, in 2012. But the history of Asian victimhood in America is varied and muddled. A presumption of foreignness might link exclusionary immigration policies of the nineteenth century to the internment of the Japanese during the Second World War; the paranoia around Asian-American scientists, which resulted in the mistreatment of a Taiwanese-American nuclear scientist named Wen Ho Lee, in the nineteen-nineties; and post-9/11 Islamophobia. Yet even the effects of these broad patterns of discrimination aren’t uniformly felt. And the needs and disadvantages of refugee communities and poor Asian Americans have been obscured as much by the myth of Asians as the “model minority” as by the movements, particularly among the professional class, to resist this myth.

The current moment underscores the in-between space that Asian Americans inhabit. It’s hard to prove bias in a hate crime, and it’s typically done by showing how a particular crime draws on recognizable histories of violence or neglect. This becomes difficult when people are mystified by the idea of anti-Asian racism. In Chin’s case, the culprits were white men who espoused racist ideas, which made it easier to recognize the assault as a hate crime and to organize the community around it. Some recent attacks also make legible the ways in which systemic injustices afflict Asian Americans. In late December, police officers killed a Chinese-American named Christian Hall in Monroe County, Pennsylvania; soon after, a Filipino-American man named Angelo Quinto died, after a police officer choked him by kneeling on his neck in Antioch, California. Both Hall and Quinto were suffering from mental-health episodes at the time. Officers claimed that Hall, who was standing on an overpass, pointed a gun in their direction. Quinto died as his family, who had called the police out of concern, looked on. Campaigns fighting for the officers to be held accountable fluidly align with the movement for Black lives, and the criticism of the criminal-justice system’s overreach and potential for brutality.

The videos circulating now are more difficult to parse. In the case of the ninety-one-year-old who was injured in Oakland, the culprit was a man with what a judge called “significant mental-health issues” who seemed to target people indiscriminately. Local community leaders in the Bay Area warned against drawing overly simplistic conclusions from these incidents. “These crimes and violent situations that happen in Chinatown have been happening for a while,” Alvina Wong, a director at the Asian Pacific Environmental Network, explained to the Oaklandside. The attack captured on video was one of more than twenty tallied by the president of the Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce in a two-week span. We might instead read these videos as part of a larger set of stories. The gutting of local reporting and newspapers has made it harder for communities to stay informed about city politics and the conditions driving local crime. Economic policies that once extracted resources from cities have now caused them to gentrify and crowd out the poor, making enemies of neighboring communities. Mayors and politicians who don’t at all fear losing the support of their Asian constituency rarely feel the need to proactively work on their behalf. Meanwhile, a tattered social safety net does little to help those struggling with mental health.

Source: The New Yorker

Eddie Huang’s Five-Step Guide To Making Your First Movie – His Directorial Debut ‘Boogie’ Is The Street-Level Story Of An Aspiring Chinese-American Basketball Star Being Pulled Between Two Worlds

Make friends: The hardest part of making a movie is paying for it. Every person in your life becomes a potential investor or contributor. I enlisted all my friends. My assistant became my lead, my mom played a fortune teller, [the rapper] Despot was hanging out on set and became a character, half my rec-league basketball team is in the film. I made two of the songs for the soundtrack in Taiwan with dudes I met in the club, others donated locations, and friends of friends became heads of departments. Make friends, then make movies—together.

Practice working with actors:There’s a lot to keep track of as a director, but you can be terrible at everything as long as you do one thing well, and that’s working with actors. Every other department has a dedicated leader who is already incredible at what they do. You can get caught up trying to impress your DP with your knowledge of lenses or your production designer with your collection of fine china, but the only thing you actually have to handle is actors. That is the one thing you can’t fuck up.

The Ja Rule:As Ja once said, “Always there when you call, always on time.” I’ve heard horror stories about production delays, things running over budget, and directors being replaced. Growing up in restaurants, it was never okay to be late, short on the register, or wasteful with food. I brought that restaurant mentality to Boogie and told everyone that the schedule is the schedule and the days are the days. This is what is budgeted and this is what has to get done today. We’re all artists, but we’re also a business. The only way I get to make another film is if this one makes money. We finished principal photography on time and under budget—despite losing an actor to a threesome, where he got cracked over the head with a champagne bottle, amongst other unconscionable circumstances—because we said we would.

Go crazyOn the day you’re shooting a scene, it doesn’t matter how many movies you’ve watched or how many times you’ve storyboarded it, you have to be in it. You have to be with your actors, and on the journey, as a participant. One of my favorite scenes was written on set. One day, we finished early,  so I threw Taylor [Takahashi, who plays the title character] and Jorge [Lendeborg Jr.] back on set, and gave them a deck of Monopoly Deal cards. I told Taylor, “You want to play cards instead of working on this school project because you don’t think school matters.” I told Jorge, “Boogie has basketball, you don’t. The only way you get to college is if you get him to work on this project with you.” It was my favorite scene to shoot because it reaffirmed the magic that can happen when a group of people put aside their fears and get after it.

Go away: After you shoot it, forget it. I spent way too much time editing and only figured the movie out once I stopped watching it. I’ve never had kids, but I do remember telling my parents over and over since the age of 12 to leave me alone, and I imagine that’s how my movie felt.

Source: Interview Magazine

Dick Gregory: Race, Comedy, And Justice

Its hard to predict whether Dick Gregory will be most celebrated as a path-breaking comedian or a trailblazing civil rights activist. Its impossible to imagine the history of either movement without him—or without his unique blending of the two. In the early 1960s, he became one of the first black comedians to perform before integrated audiences. In 1967, he ran for mayor of Chicago against Richard J. Daley, and a year later for president as the Freedom and Peace Party candidate. The author of and contributor to many politically charged books, Gregory is still a staunch, wry political voice across a range of issues as varied as nutrition, social justice, and the environment. Chicago Sun-Times columnist Laura Washington interviews the provocative and always unpredictable Gregory.

Chicago’s Egg Roll Boom Is Fueled By Black Restaurateurs, Who Fill The Chinese American Snack With Everything From Jerk Chicken To Italian Beef

It’s no secret Chicago takes its egg rolls very seriously.

The Tribune has extensively chronicled the history behind the iconic Chicago-style egg roll, defined by the addition of peanut butter in the filling. The dish has been a fixture at Chicago’s Chinese restaurants for decades, popularized by Chinese American restaurants large and small.

As former Tribune writer and current WBEZ reporter Monica Eng explored in a 2013 Tribune article, “Though dim sum chefs in Hong Kong produce a similar snack called a spring roll, the egg roll, as we know it, is a creation of early Chinese American restaurateurs who used local ingredients to create Chinese-ish foods that would appeal to American diners.”

But if you wander around predominantly Black neighborhoods on the West and South sides, you’ll notice a completely different kind of egg roll — one that uses the same wrapper, but then leaves nearly everything else behind.

The most common filling for these egg rolls is jerk chicken, and since it began to pop up in the city five years ago, it has become nearly ubiquitous on menus of Black-owned restaurants and dozens of non-Chinese establishments across the city.

Here are five great egg rolls from Black restaurateurs you can find around the Chicago area.

1) Dinkey’s Lucky Rolls at Bobby’s Video Poker and Slots

One of the people most responsible for the current egg roll boom is Ernesta Berry, who goes by the nickname Dinkey the Egg Roll Lady.

“Egg rolls have been a family thing since we were kids,” Berry said. “My grandmother used to make ground beef egg rolls all the time.”

When Berry and her sister, Lekia Lowery, opened L&B Soul Kitchen in suburban Bellwood in 2012, they served egg rolls that were similar to the ones their grandmother used to make. As Berry explained in an October article by Mike Sula for the Chicago Reader, “I called them soul rolls.”

But by 2015, she realized that soul food sales were lagging, and her customers became far more excited about Caribbean-rooted jerk chicken. “Soul food was going so slow,” Berry said, “but I noticed everyone was loving jerk chicken, so we decided to put it in an egg roll.” The jerk chicken egg roll was born.

When fresh from the fryer, the crackly wrapper is dotted with delicate bubbles from the oil. The chicken filling is both juicy and intriguingly complex, with just enough chile heat to perk up each bite.

Berry didn’t stop at jerk chicken. She has continued to come up with new filling ideas year after year. “I make 79 different flavors of egg rolls,” Berry said proudly. With Greg Hudgins, she and her sister helped open Tastee Rolls, though Berry eventually decided to strike out on her own.

Currently, you can order Berry’s egg rolls at Dinkey’s Lucky Rolls, located inside Bobby’s Video Poker and Slots in suburban Hillside. But Berry is getting ready to open a new restaurant at 3652 W. Chicago Ave. within the next two weeks called, appropriately enough, The Egg Roll Lady.

2) Tastee Rolls

The tiny restaurant that popularized the jerk chicken egg roll is still bringing in the crowds. Though her sister left, Lekia Lowery is currently manager and head chef of Tastee Rolls.

Owner Greg Hudgins couldn’t be more bullish about the future. He’s already opened a second location in Chatham, and he hopes to expand out of state soon.

Each location offers dozens of different fillings, from shrimp and cheese to garlic Parmesan chicken. The iconic jerk chicken egg roll ($4.25) is the bestseller, and a worthy place to start. But my favorite option is actually the Italian beef egg roll ($4.75), which is stuffed with tender beef, gooey cheese and spicy giardiniera.

3) BigCity Cheesesteaks

Brian Hicks, owner of BigCity Cheesesteaks, said he opened the restaurant in Hammond, Indiana, to serve (as the name suggests) cheesesteaks. It was his wife who initially persuaded him to start serving egg rolls.

“I was skeptical,” Hicks said. “I hadn’t seen a restaurant around here serve them.” But once he added the dish to his menu in January 2020, he never regretted it.

“My customers love them,” Hicks said. “I sell roughly 400 to 600 on Saturdays. I have to get in at 6 a.m. to freshly roll them.”

You won’t find jerk chicken here. Instead, Hicks said the most popular egg roll is the cheesesteak ($3.75), which arrives stuffed with sauteed beef, molten cheese and chopped bell peppers. But he’s also proud of the gyro egg roll ($4.50) and the BigCity egg roll ($4.50), which is filled with bacon, pepper jack cheese and hot peppers.

Hicks said he’s always trying to come up with new fillings. “I’m actually trying to come up with a new one right now, maybe a seafood one,” Hicks said. He’s also considering opening another restaurant that focuses exclusively on egg rolls, because business has been so good.

4) Jay’s Backyard BBQ

Even barbecue restaurants are getting into the egg roll game. Jay’s Backyard BBQ in the Austin neighborhood of Chicago serves a variety of smoked meats, from tender rib tips to jerk chicken. But the shop is probably best known for the Obama sandwich, a righteous combination of jerk chicken and jerk steak covered in Provolone cheese and heaped together on a bun.

So it makes sense that while the shop serves a very good jerk chicken egg roll, what you really want is the Obama egg roll ($4.55). The crispy covering shatters with each bite, giving way to a deluge of cheese and plenty of juicy, spicy meat.

5) 3Kings Jerk

You can find egg rolls at essentially every jerk chicken restaurant in Austin, and there are a lot of them. But I’m partial to the ones served at 3Kings Jerk. Like at the best places, the egg rolls are fried to order, leaving the wrapper extra crispy, not greasy. Obviously, jerk chicken is the most popular option, but that’s just the beginning. You can also score egg rolls stuffed with cheesesteak, jerk shrimp, and shrimp and broccoli.

Source: Chicago Tribune