95.9 FM, the Fish, Driving Through Beverly Hills


I’m driving a rental in L.A.  It’s a Ford Focus, the cheapest thing I could find.  Still has way more power than my Prius, so I still feel like I’m redlining every time I press the gas pedal.  This Focus has Microsoft SYNC, which is supposed to make connections to smartphones via Bluetooth bulletproof, except my phone, for whatever reason, will not connect.

So I’ve been relegated to listening to the radio.  After clicking through the channels, the one I found I liked the best was 95.9 FM, the Fish.  I found myself liking just about every song from this station.  It might be because many of them have these soaring melodies, almost Jim Steinmanian (that’s the guy who wrote those Meatloaf sagas, plus Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” etc.).  And then the DJ came on, Delilah, and she was talking about such deep, meaningful things, about the difficulties of life, the elusiveness of salvation, how we can find ourselves in this confusing universe of ours.  Wow, was this a cool station or what?  So very different.  Must be an L.A. thing.

And then came on a commercial about a movie I’d never heard before, War Room.

On the outside, Tony and Elizabeth Jordan seem to have it all—great jobs, a beautiful daughter and their dream home. But their appearances are deceiving: Tony relishes in his professional success and flirts with temptation, while Elizabeth resigns herself to increasing bitterness. Their marriage is on the verge of crumbling until their lives take an unexpected turn. When Elizabeth meets Miss Clara, she challenges Elizabeth to create a battle plan of prayer for her family by establishing a “war room.” This new film from the Kendrick brothers is a vivid reminder that prayer is powerful weapon.

The next song that came on was Carrie Underwood’s “Jesus Take the Wheel,” and then I finally realized I’ve been listening to a Christian Rock station.

One strange thing about me is that I hardly ever listen to the lyrics of any song.  If I like a song a lot, then I’ll eventually pick up on the lyrics, but even with those, it’s entirely possible I just learn the words on a pure sound level; i.e., my brain isn’t actually processing anything.

Even stranger?  I’m still listening to the Fish.  What can I say, I like the music.

Love Love in San Francisco Magazine (9/2015)

A hearty thank you to San Francisco Magazine for giving some love to Love Love:sanfranmag_ll

The full text:

Get lost in an oversexed San Francisco

Sung J. Woo, author of the highly lauded Everything Asian, has a new novel on a slightly different subject.  Love Love (Soft Skull Press) finds 40-year-old tennis coach Kevin Lee grappling with the discovery that not only was he adopted, but his biological parents were porn stars in ’70s San Francisco — a lot to take in for a man in the midst of a midlife crisis.

The portion of the bald head you see below my little snippet belongs to none other than Salman Rushdie!  If that wasn’t amazing enough, I’m also sharing space with Jonathan Franzen’s Purity and Billy Joel.  The entire page appears below.


KoreAm Column: Welcome to the Club


My bi-monthy column for KoreAm Journal for March/April features the music of my youth, Erasure in particular.  Enjoy!

First-World Problems: Welcome to the Club

This past New Year’s Eve, I was on the second floor of Terminal 5, a concert hall in New York City’s Hell’s Kitchen. Leaning over the railing, I screamed, “I love to hate you!” with the rest of the frenzied crowd below me, above me, all around me. As the song reached its end, the singer segued into a countdown, and then he yelled, “Happy New Year!” Gold balloons and white confetti rained down from above, and then we all sang the next song, “I try to discover, a little something to make me sweeter …”

If you are of a certain age and Asian American, there’s a high likelihood that you know these two songs are “Love to Hate You” and “A Little Respect.” This was my first time seeing Erasure. I probably should’ve done this a quarter of a century ago, but back then, I didn’t even know who they were, and more to the point, I didn’t know who I was.



Favorite Songs of 2014

“Even though we draw our lines / with very different ends”

Here’s a list of my top songs for this year, in an order that might be surprisingly mixable. These are not necessarily from 2014; I just happened to have heard them in the last twelve months.

Katie Herzig (The Walking Sleep) – Oh My Darlin’
Jessie Ware (Tough Love) – You and I (Forever)
Coldplay (Ghost Stories) – A Sky Full of Stars
Spoon (They Want My Soul) – Let Me Be Mine
Echosmith (Talking Dreams) – Nothing’s Wrong
Katie Herzig (Walk Through Walls) – Drug
American Authors (Oh, What a Life) – Hit It
Angus & Julia Stone (Angus & Julia Stone) – Get Home
Tennis (Ritual in Repeat) – Bad Girls
Delta Spirit (Delta Spirit) – Yamaha
Sam Smith (In the Lonely Hour) – Not in That Way
Ed Sheeran (X) – One
Katie Herzig (Walk Through Walls) – Human Too
Taylor Swift (1989) – Style
First Aid Kit (Stay Gold) – Heaven Knows
Bleachers (Strange Desire) – Rollercoaster
Tove Lo (Queen of the Clouds) – Timebomb
The New Pornographers (Brill Bruisers) – Champions of Red Wine
Stars (No One Is Lost) – This Is the Last Time
Jenny Lewis (The Voyager) – Just One of the Guys
Phosphorescent (Muchacho) – Ride on/Right on
Katie Herzig (Walk Through Walls) – Lines
Adam Levine (Begin Again) – Lost Stars

Katie Herzig makes four appearances here, and that number easily could’ve been ten.  I first heard her music in the show Rectify, the song “I Hurt Too,” which I later found out was also featured in the show Bones.  I guess her music translates really well to TV.  The standout this year is one of hers, “Lines,” which showcases her beautiful, fragile voice.