Once Again Another Lively Salon!

Last weekend we engaged the creativity and conversation of several local artists. A film, a novel, a rap, a dance, a choir- – where else can one get all of this in one elegant and intimate evening of culture? None other than at Eth-Noh-Tec’s “Salon! You’re ON!”

Rose Khor

Rose Khor (Film Maker)

Rose presented her film, “In Our Hawaiian Way” exploring the complex issues of cultural identity, colonialism, and religious values of Mormonism. Capturing several points of view, in an often polarized debate involving session versus assimilation the film shows the paradox of statehood versus independence. As most Americans are not aware of the US governments coup that over threw the traditional monarchy, now over a hundred years later some Hawaiians themselves have acquiesced to Euro-Amero- centric version of history. While others, have kept this alive the memory of this illegal and aggressive take over. In the film Rose depicted a range of opinions. One man stated: “I see lots of similarities between indigenous Hawaiian values and those of Jesus”. Another man representing views of indigenous sovereignty retorts: “Statehood is just a piece of paper”.

Lian Guow

Lian Guow (Writer)

Reading from her novel, “Only A Girl”, Lian conveyed honest relationships, flavors and sounds of home life- insight into lives of families of the Chinese Diaspora. Whether they are Chinese in Indonesia or Chinese in America, one thing is common: family values are constantly torqued by Eastern and Western values. In her book, she describes how older generations want the younger ones to retain their “Chinese-ness”. Contrarily, the youth, rapidly absorbing the colonial culture of the Dutch see the old ways as arcane and irrelevant to transformation of modern Indonesia. Her story is set in the turbulent backdrop of World Depression, World War II, and the Indonesian Revolution.

Cio Casteneda

Cio Casteneda (Hip Hop Priest)

“Growing up in the Bay Area, around all these religions, I’ve absorbed by all, taking in all the good messages of them all. To be quite honest, traditional religion is far from what the youth today want too hear… I’m following this thing I’ve developed – not use swear words in general so that all people can appreciate what I have to say. My objective is to get out the positive messages… represent the Peace, things my mother taught me good morals and all that. Reaction from young people – I get a lot of support. I’ll be alright if even one person claps. My tribe- Precita Eyes they’re my tribe. They took me in. Some people say “hey Cio, you should use swear words” but I can’t write verse with swear words. [comments on gang warfare] You know there warfare’s between Norteños and the Sureño’s- it’s here in the Mission District, it’s in Oakland, it’s in Los Angeles, in all the State… it’s in 38 countries… it’s a serious things pulling my brothers and sisters down, not just Latinos but all communities down. With all the gang warfare it got me into this Peace thing.

Folawole Oyinlola

Folawole Oyinlola (Dancer)

Inspired by a thought “Downward Spiral”, a common idiom in our language, Folawole, who had been thinking about this for several weeks, explored this psychological idea with both dance and narrative. Folawole quotes: “What does it mean to recognize a path, spiral, or no spiral? What does it fell like to watch a work which seems unscripted? Life = path script = path acceptance =path resolution path= accent= path. If growth, joy, strength and confidence were never put intot he dictionary would the accents of life accept unscripted resolutions? Folawole’s dance theater stertched the usual imaginations into unusual, non-languaged based perception. It was fascinating to watch him create as he explored space and silence, dramatic suspension… sometimes broken by enigmatic narrative. One noted moment was his erasure of the spiral’s arc on the ground as if to imply it’s temporariness. How credible is our perception and emotion- if it is merely a fleeting and ephemeral moment. His movements were simple walking gestures- with occasional glances and furtive questions posed to his audience which sat uncomfortably close. But then again- Art isn’t always comfortable!

Na Leo Nahe Nahe

Na Leo Nahe Nahe (Choir)

As their Hawaiian name implies, “Sweet Voices” is a fun, bright and lively choir that specializes in promoting Hawaiian vocal music. Committed to the preservation and promotion of this music, the choir, one of it’s kind in mainland United States, is made of members who are a mix of both Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians. All are drawn to the island culture for many reasons, some for pleasure, others for spiritual and cultural affinity. All of it’s singers are however, united in the spirit of “aloha”, the Love spirit. A couple of titles they offered are: “E Mauna A Kaha A Heo” which calls upon the ancient past inform and create healthy futures for the next generations; and “Makala Pua” (named after an open flower, which is the most fragrant in any garden). This song, derived from a “mele” or traditional chant speaks of these flowers that were once made into a lei to celebrate the birthday of Kamaka Heia who later became Queen Liliokalani.

A Spiraling Community Discussion!

As the evening evolved into the community dialogue, two themes kept surfacing: one of the “downward spiral” as we talked about the social plight of the urban disenfranchised, inner city poverty, warfare, and the global economy. The second theme was “paradox”: the paradox of Western colonialism and modernization. Challenges were posed: what are the choices we make as “colonized” societies vs. being victims, at the effect of it modernization? Does our awareness of this allow us to truly choose “freely” the best of both worlds? Though we have all benefitted from modernization, what has been lost?… at what cost? How many lives have been slaughtered, conquered, converted in order to achieve this modern lifestyle? We strive to define our identity- when in fact, we all are the creative result of multiple cultural identities, layers, and facades… merely cultural tissues that we grow or peel back in order to reveal (or conceal) our true human-ness.

Special Thanks:

To Linda Yemoto, Leon Sun, Gary & Abhe Lapow, Amy & Lew Levinson for bringing refreshments and helping being on the host team. Of any of the readers would like to join this team, please contact us. We could use your help. By the way… the LAST Salon, before we go dormant over summer is slated for June 5. Don’t miss it!

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