Saturday, May 30, 2009

Korea Town

“America’s Gypsy”
Ana Berry travels the world within America, taking us on cultural adventures in our own cities. See them as mini vacations that not only entertain us but also immerse us in the local cultures living in this large country.
Today we are headed to Korea town! Located in the Mid-Wilshire district of Los Angeles, Korea town is rich with historic brownstones, high-end Asian boutiques, food markets and spas. Many Korean immigrants and investors came to California during the 1960s, after restrictions on immigration to the United States from East Asia were lifted. Now, Korea town is considered one of the most diverse neighborhoods in America with a Korean population of 160-thousand people within 5 square miles, making it the largest concentration of Koreans outside of Korea.
It was another day of hustle and bustle in Los Angeles and I needed to relax! I heard of these so-called Korean Day Spas, but in this city, luxury comes at a high price. Not in Korea town! For under a hundred dollars, I spent hours in an all woman’s’ Korean spa or, Jimjilbang. My Ajuma (the term for the woman giving you your treatment) salted and scrubbed me like a piece of meat, being seasoned for the BBQ and even though she was barely 5 feet tall and practically naked, she was extremely strong and thorough. I was in a mermaid’s oasis, circulating my senses by soaking in hot baths, plunging in cold tubs, napping in dry saunas and sweating in steam rooms. After a few hours in the spa, I was clean, relaxed and invigorated for the Korean adventures that awaited the day.
The streets of Korea town took me out of Los Angeles and into a snippet of Seoul. The tall buildings were filled with Korean billboards above me, as hundreds of people walked in and out of local Korean boutiques and restaurants beside me.
So I decided to join them! I entered the 24-hour ‘Tofu House’ and was greeted by an array of “Anyon Haseo’s”. Upon being seated, I was immediately served "banchan”, traditional side dishes that come with the meal. They included odaeng (fish cakes), mu (radish), shigumchi (spinach leaves), and spicy pickled kimchee (which contains vitamin c, fiber and stimulates the appetite). I ordered the mehoontang, (hot fish soup) which was like a witch’s cauldron, spices bubbling from the top of the iron bowl. The Korean waitress spoke no English but explained to me with her hands how to crack an egg and stir it in the boiling soup. Delicious, spicy, tangy and slightly sweet.
The meal was so delicious I had to buy some of these Korean delicacies as a souvenir snack. At the ‘Hank Kook Market’, I found exactly what I wanted; saltwater eel (jang uh), pickled Kimchee, and Korean rice wine (dongdong ju). Korean food is quite exotic and different from other Asian cuisines. And most Korean dishes are healthy because they use very little oil, fat and grease.
Full from my mehoontang and relaxed from my jimjilbang, I needed a drink. And to complete my gypsy caravan in Korea town, I wanted one last Korean cultural adventure; to sip Soju and to sing Karaoke. It was ‘Elvis Night’ at The Brass Monkey, a Karaoke hot spot, and Blue Moon was being serenaded to a group of giggling girls in the Korean language. Sipping my last drop of Soju, I got up and sang, Love Me Tender, to a bunch of smiling strangers. In this moment of being in a Korean Karaoke bar singing American music, I felt the magic of connecting with cultures.
As the sun began to set, the bright neon lights took over the skyline of Korea town. And even though I have never been to Korea, I felt like I had just explored the soul of Seoul in America!
Other cities that have Korea Town are Manhattan, Orange County, Seattle, Atlanta, Doraville, Chicago, Boston, Baltimore, Dallas, and Kansas City.

Korean Language
Hello: Annyeonghi Haseo (un young ha say o)
Thank you: Kamsamnida (kam sam nee da)
Goodbye: Annyeonghi gaseyo (un young ga say o)

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Dance Parade

Americas Gypsy went to the New York Dance Parade and shimmie'd, tango'd and salsa'd from 28th st to 10th street!

"Dance Parade Inc is an 501(c)3 charity who’s mission is:

to promote dance as an expressive and unifying art form by
showcasing all forms of dance, educating the general public
about the opportunities to experience dance, and celebrating
diversity of dance in New York City by sponsoring a yearly
city-wide dance parade and dance festival.

Why we do what we do:

To honor Dance’s historical roots:
New York has never celebrated the forms of dance that it has birthed until now: Voguing, Jazz, the Jitterbug, Punk, Gothic--even Salsa was birthed in the Cuban Communities in this great city. And it is now time for Dance. New York has enjoyed the last three years of a September Art Parade and since May 2007, we are finally honoring Dance in a similar fashion.

To unite in respecting Dance’s diversity:
Dance is vital in healthy societies, helping people to communicate and affirm individual and collective identity. Dance Parade is a multi-cultural, multi-generational expression of the joy and value of these various forms of expression. It will foster cross-pollination of dance forms as it introduces audiences to novel styles and beats: teenagers to tango, clubbers to square-dancing, and seniors to hip-hop.

To support grass-roots organizations:
As an umbrella organization, Dance Parade empowers and supports dance communities that do not have access to public funding yet have a communicative art form they wish to practice and promote. We help them build websites, get access to materials, fundraise, and reach broader audiences.

To legitimize Dance as a communicative, social form of expression:
In the 19th century, ballroom dancing was deemed devil’s work. In the 1920’s, New York City enacted the Cabaret Law to stem interracial dancing from Harlem Jazz Clubs. The 1930’s had Nazi Germany quashing Swing Dancing because it was considered anarchistic. And in 2006, a New York State Supreme Court ruled that, unlike music, theater and painting, dance is not a constitutionally protected form of expression. In contrast, Dance Parade will highlight the diversity found in its many forms and showcase dance’s immense cultural and communicative importance.

To invoke joy and brotherhood:
New York’s annual dance parade will reinstate New York City as the dance performance and nightlife capital of the world. We quote Dr. Motte, the founder of Berlin’s Love parade: “Dance is spreading rapidly and is unstoppable around the world. It is about LOVE and it is about FREEDOM. This represents a much wider personal, social and spiritual transformation-revolution which will utterly change our world over the coming decades. THIS IS OUR FUTURE. OPEN YOUR HEART! FREE YOUR MIND! FACE YOUR FEARS! LIVE YOUR SOUL! DANCE!” from the website New York Dance Parade

Marni the Mermaid 2007 Parade Whirling Dervishes 2007 Parade

Friday, May 1, 2009

my Body Sutra

Origin of Easter

Easter! A Feast Day! A Day to Celebrate! But what is its origin? Its meaning besides Yeshua Ben Joseph rising from the dead 3 days after his crucifixion….
Science is involved, Math is involved, Geography is involved, Religion is involved, Myth is involved…and all because of Culture!

Easter was originally a pagan celebration of renewal and rebirth.
Celebrated in the early spring, honoring the Saxon goddess Eastre “to shine".
The goddess flies through the heavens surrounded by beams of light and animals.

Similar Goddesses were celebrated in Spring in other ancient cultures around the World :
A p h r o d i t e f r o m C y p r u s
A s h t o r e t h f r o m I s r a e l
A s t a r t f r o m G r e e c e
D e m e t e r f r o m M y c e n a e
H a t h o r f r o m E g y p t
I s h t a r f r o m A s s y r i a
K a l i f r o m I n d i a
O s t a r a , N o r s e G o d d e s s o f f e r t i l i t y .

The Rebirth of a Spring Deity has been celebrated through rituals and feasting not only by Anglo-Saxons but by other cultures all around the world!

Around this time, Hindus celebrate festivals such as Chaitra Varsha Pratipada ! Yugadi ! Cheti Chand ! or Gudipadwa! This is followed by eight days of fasting for Goddess Parvati; mother goddess who is the representation of Shakti, which is primordial cosmic energy that runs throughout the entire universe.
The ancient Egyptians marked the rebirth of the God Osiris (Egyptian God of the Afterlife) with eight days of celebrations.
In China people were offering each other painted red eggs during the Ching Ming (Pure Brightness) festival as far back as 3,000 years ago.
From many of these celebrations is how we get the eight days of Holy Week (the climax of Lent and preparation for Easter) which begins on Palm Sunday and finishes on Easter Sunday.
In ancient Rome, an annual festival was held for the rebirth of the God Attis, whose return was celebrated by dining, music, parades and sporting events. This festival was held just after the spring equinox, and it is from here that we derive the date of Easter, which always falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the spring equinox. This means Easter can fall any time between March 21 and April 25 (my birthday).

Easter is a moveable feast following the cycle of the Moon and is also linked to the Jewish Passover because of its position in the calendar.

All churches accepted the computation of the Alexandrian Church (now the Coptic Church) that Easter is the first Sunday after the Paschal Full Moon that is on or after March 21 (the ecclesiastic "vernal equinox").
An equinox occurs twice a year, when the tilt of the Earth's axis is inclined neither away from nor towards the Sun, the Sun being vertically above a point on the Equator. It is equal and balanced. The equinox is the time when a passage happens.
The name "equinox" is derived from the Latin aequus (equal) and nox (night), because around the equinox, the night and day are approximately equally long.

Bas-relief in Persepolis - a symbol Iranian/Persian Nowruz - on the day of a spring equinox, the power of an eternally fighting bull (personifying the Earth) and that of a lion (personifying the Sun), are equal.
The name of the Easter festival is derived from the Latin Pascha.
In Spanish, Easter is la Pascua,
in Italian Pasqua
and in Portuguese Páscoa.
In French, the name of Easter Pâques
In R u s s i a n   it  is    P a s k h a.

Why the egg? Well, for rebirth. Life! Spring! In the Indian epic Mahabharat, Yaksha asks the question, “What has life but does not move?” Yudhishtra answers “Egg”.

In former Yugoslavia, children design nests for hares in their gardens and the next morning find brightly painted eggs deposited there. In Germany and Hungary children carry baskets decorated with painted hares, in which they collect chocolate eggs and other small gifts on Easter Sundays…just like our little brothers and sisters do here in America!
How funny it is that Hares or Rabbits have baby rabbits, not eggs.
Silly traditions but smiles they do bring! I remember my mother and I would always die eggs the day before Easter, then on Easter morning, before we would go to church, I would run outside with my little pink curlers still in my hair and search for the eggs. And always there was some big white stuffed Easter Bunny waiting for me high up in a tree branch holding chocolate in its hand! Yum yum

Simply said, spring is a return to abundance and beauty after long, cold winters! The dogwoods begin to bloom, green leaves bud from the trees, the black leather coats are put away and the white linen shirts are being pressed getting ready to wear!
As we can see, Easter is a holiday special to all forms of life, all religions and through out ancient times. Science and Spirituality make for a joyous holiday that one can spend with friends and family or one can spend in the silence of their own heart! The crucifixion of the old…letting die what needs to die…releasing what needs to go…and clearing out space for the birth, the new, the spring, the light!
What are we inviting in to the new Spring of our life?

I hope you enjoyed this cultural jambalaya account of the history of Easter. I feel that if we understand the chronology and interpretation from all aspects of culture and tradition, we can then clear out the stereotypical meaning and make space for our own creation of what it means to us personally.