Oliver Wang

Oliver Wang is a professor of sociology at CSU-Long Beach and the author of Legions of Boom: Filipino American Mobile DJ Crews of the San Francisco Bay Area (Duke Univ. Press, 2015). Since 1994, he has written regularly on music, food, and other pop culture for outlets including NPR's All Things Considered, the Los Angeles Review of Books, Los Angeles Times, and KCET’s Artbound.

Updated August 2021

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Cruising Nisei

If you arrived after dark to the Nisei Week carnival back in the 1980s, you likely would have encountered the following scene: a seemingly endless parade of cars, trucks, and motorcycles circling the streets, blaring music, revving engines, burning rubber. Crowds of Nikkei youth would have spilled off the sidewalks and street curbs, watching, gawking. They weren’t there for the carnival but for the side show that had become a main event: the Nisei Week cruise.

“The cruise” grew out of a much larger, older tradition across America where groups of car owners would spif up their rides and drive …

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Nikkei Car Clubs

Don Mizota was born in Los Angeles in 1940 and as a toddler, he and his family spent the wartime years interned in Jerome, Arkansas, then Amache, Colorado. Upon their release, the Mizota family returned to Southern California, settling in the San Fernando Valley, near Hansen Dam. They lived close to Basilone Homes, then a housing project for veterans, but by the late 1940s, the barracks had been torn down and replaced by the short-lived Hansen Dam Race Track. It was there that Don first fell in love with cars. He recalls walking to the race track and “standing by …

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