Rollin' deep in the heart of the I.E. through the gnarled concrete arteries of 60+10+91 east to neon sunsets and Naugles, Taco Tia, the Mad/Friendly/Happy or Lucky Greek,The Menagerie, Spanky's, Butch's Grinders, The Denny's Cocktail Lounge at Hardman Center (in pace requiescat). We spell Paris P-E-R-R-I-S, bitches!


MEDIA ALERT: I.E. Casinos and Asian Entertainers

On Thanksgiving, Riverside's Press Enterprise featured a story on the Asian entertainment acts booked at local casinos to rake in even more "yellow dollars." The story reveals what I know from my own sordid experiences in the card rooms of southern California: it's a good bet you'll find plenty of Pinoy, Korean, Vietnamese and Chinese cardsharks hunkered down at the tables.

According to the story, bringing in Asian acts (and acts popular with Asians) not only services the growing communities in the Inland region, but also convinces those of us who live further afield in L.A. or Orange County to drive in for more prolonged overnight gaming getaways. Not that we need all that much convincing. [LEFT: The Golden Divas--a campy trio of Pinay mestiza vocal stars of yore-- performing tonight at Pala Casino].

"Agua Caliente is seeing patrons from Orange County and Morongo is pulling from San Bernardino and Los Angeles.

Ferrari [director of marketing operations for Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula--one of my fave places] said the resort's Saigon Thanksgiving show this weekend was booked only a month ago and was selling very well.

Ferrari said sometimes acts have crossover appeal, such as rock band Journey, whose show sold out quickly when the band played Pechanga earlier this year. The band's singer, Arnel Pineda, is from the Philippines.

Other acts are teaming up with American artists, such as Martin Nievera [Emperor: an old family friend], who will perform with Brian McKnight at Morongo in December."

Click HERE for the full story.

In the meantime, I'll let the Golden Divas take us out with their cover of Rihanna's "Umbrella" (performed live on the Filipino variety show, S.O.P.)


I.E. Holiday News Round Up | Shooting at Toys 'R' Us + Mission Inn Gets Totally Lit

Riverside Countians had to one-up the Long Island Walmart trampling with a shooting that left two men dead at a Palm Desert Toys 'R' Us store. Though the gun battle was NOT about a toy, circumstances were inflamed by the long lines and buying frenzy of Black Friday. The Riverside Press Enterprise reports (click on the map for the full story):

"Bargain hunters scrambled from a Palm Desert Toys "R" Us on Friday after two men were shot and killed on one of the nation's busiest shopping days.

Riverside County Sheriff's Department Sgt. Dennis Gutierrez said the men were involved in a nonshopping-related disagreement near the checkout stand of the busy store.

'This confrontation was not over a toy,' Gutierrez said.

Police in the Coachella Valley city arrived at 11:32 a.m., a minute after receiving reports of shots fired inside the crowded store on Highway 111. Retailers such as Toys "R" Us generally offer deep discounts to draw customers on Black Friday, as the day after Thanksgiving is known."


On a much happier note, yesterday also marked the start of the 16th Annual Festival of Lights at downtown Riverside's The Mission Inn. I hadn't really thought about it 'til now but in the years since grad school, I've managed to bring friends from all over the world and So. Cal to the Mission Inn's twinkly, animatronic wonderland. It wasn't (just) because they were too broke to fly home--but more often than not, because they were too broke to fly home AND to the MLA for job interviews, papers and other professional tortures. Thank goddesses this will mark the last year that dreadful gathering is scheduled between Christmas and New Year's. (Click the picture for the Press Enterprise's account of yesterday's festivities).

The Emperor dedicates this year's Festival of Lights to all the loved ones--our beautiful, improvised families--from Koeln, Paris, Marseilles, Iowa City, Lexington, Seoul, Salinas, Bell Gardens and The Valley who have each claimed these lights as their own some time or other. Please come again soon. Y'all know you're always welcome. xoxoxo, I. Emperor.


L.A. TIMES: Unemployment Surge in the I.E.

With an unemployment rate of 9.1%, the Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario metro region ranks even worse than Detroit.

From Dan Pierson of the Los Angeles Times (click the picture below for the full story):
"The percentage of people unemployed in the Inland Empire has more than doubled from a year ago, and some experts predict the situation will worsen before it improves.

'It's a perfect storm,' said Brad Kemp, director of regional research for Beacon Economics, which recently conducted the second annual Inland Empire Economic Forecast Conference.

'It was one of the fastest-growing places in America,' he said. 'And when you have that kind of growth, you have the potential for loss.'

The downturn has all but erased the glow of optimism the Inland Empire enjoyed only two years ago, when newly minted mansions and an array of upscale retailers fashioned parts of the region into a more affordable Orange County in the making." [Right: The historic Fox Theater in downtown Riverside. Perpetually under renovation]

Sadly, this offers more fodder for the O.C./I.E. rivalry subplot in my book.


All in the Family | Benefit Big Band Concert + No More Blues CD

When Kangagi and I hit up the Riverside Pride Festival in White Park last month (mentioned in my previous post), my mom and dad decided to join us. Much to my surprise--totally embarrassing, actually--my folks knew more queers at the festival than I did, from a would-be Project Runway contestant who made it deep into the casting rounds, to the middle-aged dyke who ruled the hand stamp check. We were the wallflowers, and they were the ones ass-bumping, cheek-kissing and saying howdy to every queer in town. [Left: Mom, Dad and me, ca. 1979].

For a minute I wondered if it was all due to the fact that their last name is DYKES (yes--that is my stepfather's real last name), but as Kangagi and I quickly realized, their inroads to the scene actually come from their church, the Riverside Community Center for Spiritual Living in Fairmont Park near downtown. This queer positive, predominantly African-American church (which hosted a booth at the pride festival), is where my dad has been the musical director for nearly a decade. And it's the community that nurtured my mom through her recent battle with cancer, from surgery to chemo to recovery. Even as I was frantically driving east on the 60 FWY in the morning hours of my mom's epic surgery, Rev. Lee was there with my dad and grandmother to pray with mom and soothe her nerves as she went under, and to help bolster our collective hope that everything would be OK.

This Sunday, October 26 at 7pm, mom and dad, my uncle, smooth Jazz dude Boy Katindig, and all of their musical colleagues and friends will "pay it forward" (if you will) by performing at a major fundraiser for the church. The "Raise the Roof Benefit Big Band Concert" will help raise funds for structural repairs to the building, as well help continue funding programs like the center's PFLAG meetings, youth choir, spiritual retreats and day to day operations. Many friends and family are already coming to participate in the festivities, which include fine dining at Mario's downtown, a silent auction, etc. The fam and I are profoundly moved by the generosity of our friends and colleagues, not only with their dollaz in this time of economic uncertainty, but also with their time. Join us if you can!

Mom's new CD (with the I.E. Based Skipper Productions jazz label curated by jazz bass legend, Henry Franklin), will also be available at the concert in advance of its official release date on October 30th. Titled NO MORE BLUES, it features some of my folks' favorite bossa nova and straight-ahead jazz standards. If you can't make it to the show and would like to buy a CD, just email mom at I'll also post here when the disc is available on iTunes and other sites like Rhapsody and Last FM. Here's a little preview of their first single, the Antonio Carlos Jobim classic, "Triste":

Triste - Maria Katindig-Dykes

, we hope to see you at the show!
Biggest Love,
The Inland Emperor

Raise the Roof II - A Benefit Big Band Concert
Sunday, October 26, 2008 - 7pm
General Admission, $25
3891 Ridge Road | Riverside, CA 92501 | Tickets: 951.683.2343


Calendar Alert! | Riverside Pride '08 (September 13)

Polish your rainbow bling, and buy an ample stash of Mac's "twig and fetish" lipstick--RuPaul is one of the featured performers at Riverside's first local pride festival on September 13, 2008! If memory serves, there have been local pride parades and protests in the past, but none have been as ambitious as this year's program of performances, activities and an "art walk" in downtown's White Park (located right next door to ye olde Le Sex Shoppe and the all-you-can-eat Cabin Sushi--aka "porno sushi"--beloved by Media Sheep).

In my
adolescence, White Park was the classic downtown wino park (like the one where Cornelius Hackl in Hello Dolly sings "It Only Takes a Moment"). But all the civic-led gentrification has seen it turn in to a more respectable picnic spot--proximity to Le Sex and all. [Above R: Cabin Sushi, photographed by Yelper Jan G. || Below L:White Park now]

The event is organized by the Jeffrey Owens Community Center, an Inland support and advocacy group that came together after the 2002 murder of a local AIDS activist and North High School Alum. Jeffrey Owens was stabbed to death in the parking lot behind The Menagerie (the I.E.'s oldest queer club). Unlike most corporate pride events that tend only to benefit the unholy triumverate of light beers (Bud, Coors and Miller), as well as other opportunists, Riverside Pride is being staged to increase awareness and raise money for local charities and local non-profit LGBTIQ organizations like JOCC. Click the poster below for a link to the Riverside Pride myspace page with more info about how to participate as a Volunteer, Vendor or Performer. Tickets are $10.


I.E. Quake!!! || 5.4 - Epicenter Chino Hills

My favorite thing about an earthquake in So. Cal is the calm, butchy presence of "the earthquake lady," Kate Hutton from Cal Tech. I guess I'm not the only dyklette who grew up totally stoked for her no-nonsense, skirt-suited seismological updates. Check out Kate's interview with The Advocate back in 2001 for more lesbionic subtext. [Below Right: Kate in action]

I have to say, she seemed a bit grumpier on the Channel 7 Eyewitness news today,
totally willing to complain overtly that the Governator's budget cuts leave little room for developing early quake detection technology. You go, Doc! When the Big One strikes, we'll all be waiting for you to tell us the real deal...

Despite the relatively slow roll we experienced out here, 40 miles west in Silver Lake, Kangagi and I still sensed we at least had something in the upper 4's on our hands. Today's 5.4 quake happened to be epi-centered in the I.E.'s very own Chino Hills, my Oh! Industry sistah, CBB's hometown.

When the quake struck, my mom was at the Tyler Mall (or is it the Gal
leria at Tyler now?) in nearby Riverside, getting her prescription glasses fixed, while Dad was at home, apparently just apres shower and hence nervous about not having the option to flee out of the house. I know, TMI.

Like everyone else, I couldn't get through using a cell phone (so much for their emergency effectiveness), but our prehistoric landline worked just fine. Dad reported no damage or toppled books at home (surprising given how they're such pack rats), but neither of us could reach my mom. She finally got a text through about 30 mins. later, and complained that "there's really no place to go in a mall that feels like it's built entirely out of glass."

Otherwise, there isn't much more to add to the good ol' Press Enterprise report. I wonder how the controversial, year-old Ranch 99 Asian Market is holding up? Check out Angry Asian Man's take from
last April, or for all sides of the "we don't want this to turn into another Rowland or Hacienda Heights" story, visit the P.E. archive. Could today's quake be a case of the Karma Chameleons? Kate Hutton would probably say no. The ancestors meanwhile...


I.E. Summer Songs with Soul Sides

Inspired by Paho Mann's "Reinhabited Circle Ks" project, my contribution to Oliver Wang's annual "Summer Songs" feature on Soul Sides crawls from the I.E. up to the Bay Area and back. Click on Club Tattoo for a peek and a listen...


In Memoriam || UCR Professor, Lindon Barrett

Excerpted and reposted from something I wrote on Oh! Industry:

This morning we received tragic news about the passing of someone whose work, spirit and strength has inspired us for many years. Lindon Barrett, formerly the director of African American Studies at UC Irvine, and recently appointed Professor of English at UC Riverside, was found murdered in his residence this weekend in Long Beach, CA.
There is much to say about the beautiful complexity of Lindon's work--about the prescience of his early essay on Ann Petry's The Street; about his brilliant book, Blackness and Value: Seeing Double (Cambridge, 1999), which has continued to exert a tremendous influence, both theoretical and lyrical on scholars of critical theory, aesthetics, musicality and race. In honor of him, and of a life and work so richly consumed by (in his own words) the "sly alterity of the singing voice, a voice assuming much more than mere 'traditional' speech," we offer this tribute in song:

Good morning Heartache - Billie Holiday

Read the entire post here.
To follow up, a few remarks from the Chair of UCR's English Department, Katherine Kinney:

"The English faculty are devastated by the death of Lindon Barrett. Lindon joined the department just last year, but many of us had known him for years. He embraced his new position at Riverside, bringing a personal warmth and passion to the

department and his field of African American studies. A brilliant scholar, Lindon was just finishing a major book on slavery’s central role in the evolution of Western modernity. Lindon offered so much, personally and professionally, to the department, the campus, and the scholarly field of African American studies. He will be missed by friends and colleagues across campus and across the country."

Memorial services will be held on a date TBA in his hometown of Winnipeg, Manitoba in Canada. Further information can be found here.

I am grateful to have had the opportunity, as brief as it was, to share ideas with him at UC Irvine's Humanities Research Institute. My heartfelt condolences go out not only to his family and former colleagues at UCR and UCI, but also to his Inland Empire communities, and to all who were inspired by him in this region that he occupied with such vivacity.


donwill +suhBURB's "Suburban Sprawl" album

This is a little different from my own suburban soundscape of new-Ro inspired melodia, but worth a good listen nonetheless. Check out Suburban Sprawl--the latest collaboration between the producer, suhBURB and the Brooklyn based donwill of Tanya Morgan fame.

The collab was born like lots of things in the suburbs, during idle time:
this project began in early 2006 i believe. suhburb would send these 15 minute long mp3 beat tapes to us and they would flow like an album. i remember the one that originally sparked the idea was the Brazil Beat tape (sounds like a porno now that i think about it) and when i had heard it i liked so much of it that i jokingly suggested to him that i would just write verses, two track it and release that. a few emails, aim conversations, phone calls and years later and we are both proud to present to you suburban sprawl."

Listen carefully for fun with digital watermarks in tracks like "Fly Me" and "Diwadiwadonald." Special thanks to la Doyle for passing the link on to me. Read the rest of donwill's liner notes here. And listen to the whole album right hurrr....


Skullphone at R.A.M.

As the L.A. Times recently reported, Skullphone, the anonymous and elusive guerrilla artist (a la Banksy), is making a splash at the Riverside Art Museum in the city's historic downtown.

AMID THE stately Mediterranean and Classical architecture of the Riverside Art Museum, a 1929 building on the National Register of Historic Places, the underground street artist known as Skullphone has left his mark -- a black-and-white human skull chatting on a cellphone. The gritty images are everywhere -- on a Dumpster outside the museum, in common areas and throughout installations by other artists.

I haven't had a chance to check it out yet, but will at some point in the coming 3 weeks as I try to cram in some I.E. fieldwork, despite being focused on the OC chapter these daze.

All this to say that
I'm sorry I've been so remiss about posting here. The Inland Emperor lives, I promise! I'm aiming to post more frequently, but need to stick with quickie posts, re-posts and photo essays for now, as I try to keep up with the regular features at Oh!, and crank out some other pieces on the side...not to mention that whole book thing.


The Imperial Accent

It's been forever since I found a sliver of time to actually post something here. I even failed at the simple tenets of self promotion (no prefatory blast about the LACE Listening Party this March, for example--see flier to the left). What finally pushed me into posting today is a shout out from my Oh! Industry sistah, CBB, about a piece I read at the listening party that actually followed up on some of my previous remarks here at IEmperor about the Riversidian love affair with British pop bands. A girl I knew in high school (who shall remain nameless), spoke in a British accent our entire freshman year to try and convince us she helped choreograph some dance routines for Wham! Riverside has a long history of collective fascination with all things British (i.e. the annual Riverside "Dickens Fest")--which might explain a few things about my twisted career path. But for me it's always been about the music. I never would've memorized Shelley's poetry when I was 14 if I hadn't heard about him in pop songs...

Excerpted from my SUBURBS listening party at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions||

BRITISH is the other accent I always have in mind, when I think about the music that maps the empires of my familiar. The Inland Empire to me was never a homogeneous conglomeration of little boxes, but truly the crossroads of empire. [Right: the "Riverside Enterprise," 1931 - from UCR's Asian American Riverside Archive]

Despite the region’s much maligned name, I’ve come retrospectively to understand that it is all too fitting: from the defense industries that once resided there "making America strong," to the re-creations of Spanish missionary culture in its downtown revivalisms, to the more genteel, Citrus-era Victorianism affirming, even now, a Brit stranglehold on “Culture” as well as "Anarchy," long after the sun has set
beyond the British empire.

My suburban adolescence constantly toggled between the accented stylings of soft rock balladry—the esmooth sounds of Pinoy culture I return to over and over again in my work, and the slinky, synthy sounds of an Imperial New Wave--that much heralded second British Invasion sold to the So. Cal kids by Richard Blade (actually Richard Shepphard of Torquay, England. He changed his name to “Blade” when he moved to L.A. in 1982 as an homage to the film
Blade Runner).

In many ways, Richard Blade--on shows like
Video One on channel 9, Video Beat on KTLA, and of course as a DJ on KROQ, "Roq of the 80s"-- curated the “remote intimacies” of my youth. "Remote intimacy" is a phrase I’ve borrowed from queer studies legend, Jennifer Terry. While she's used it to describe, literally, some of the circuits of affect generated by certain war games and surveillance technologies, I personally imagine “remote intimacies” describing the fan communities for whom intimacies cohere across virtual networks of desire (through the radio, music and television, on the internet, and now online through social/friendship networks). Remote intimacies account, both technically and affectively, for the symbiosis that can happen between disparate subjects---between Latin@s and Morrissey, for example, or between suburban queers of color and anglophilic ear-candy in general.

For me “remote intimacies” means imagining our own spaces in correspondence with others. It's something akin to, but not as official as “sister cities” or "town twinning" (like Cannes and Beverly Hills). Unlike most urbanites who assume the sub-urban is always oriented towards its closest city, I like to think that these imaginary correspondences sometimes have to happen across greater distances, both conceptually and topographically with other ethnicities, accents, nations... even other empires that feel more benevolent (though they surely aren’t), simply owing to the fact that they aren’t ours.

I loved Duran Duran because nothing seemed more exotic to me than Birmingham, England. Out here where we’re so far West we were almost touching East again, my adolescent mind didn’t quite process the fact that all the locales in their videos had little to do with the Birmingham of my fantasies. Instead, they recaptured the colonial imaginaries of a British empire re-styled by Vivienne Westwood: “some new Romantic looking for the TV sound” on a re-drawn Planet Earth.

Little did I know that that Birmingham in all of its gritty, working class industrial glory might’ve actually been closer to Riverside, CA than I thought.

There's more to say on this subject, but for now I'll leave you with a song that was never a single, yet remains one of my favorites from Duran Duran's watershed RIO album. Maybe then you’ll understand why I didn’t so much let myself get captured by another empire, but made "my own way" towards something else by walking tall and jaunty like John Taylor’s bassline.


Media Alert: Mt. Rubidoux on Bravo's RHWOC

The sacred place where every troubled teen of Riverside has learned to drink, make out or both (successively), recently made a cameo in The Real Housewives of Orange County. Yes my friends, that imposing dirt hill of big boulders and an even bigger cross, Mt. Rubidoux (pictured left during Easter Sunrise service way back in There Will be Blood times) has finally had its close-up. Quinn, RHWOC's new Christian housewife, and the self-professed "cougar" of Coto de Caza, visited her born-again mom in Riverside before the season finale. During an awkward scene on mom's patio with a view of the Rubidoux cross, Quinn processes her very un-Christian urges to ravage, pre-maritally, a golf pro she's been dating named Billy. She pauses first to notice however, that "wow this is pretty for Riverside. Totally surprising!"

Girl, you know it's true.

BTW, I too have been up Mt. Rubidoux multiple times for Easter Sunrise service--an obligatory gig on a rotating basis for every High School choir/chamber singers group in the Riverside Unified School District. Most of my time on the mount was spent violating everything on the sign posted at the entry: