Wednesday, December 28, 2016

First Night

I signed up for the First Night Parade under the Chinatown Blog. I thought I would use the blogs name in case I want to do it as a promo type of thing... but it's not like I have Boston Chinatown Blog flags and banners. Though that is something to think about. I will be bringing the kids out and using the Lion Heads that Sifu Larry Wong of Nam Pai gave to me after the Lion Dance Competition. Pretty excited about that.

But more than that, Wong Keung will also be coming with a Dragons and Drums and Lion Heads. And Woo Ching White Crane will be participating as well, all under the Boston Chinatown Blog Banner..... except again... we don't actually have a physical banner with that name on it per se.

But it will be a lot of fun. The Parade starts at Copley at 6pm and goes down to the Boston Common. This is different than past years where the parade started at the Hynes Convention Center. In fact... 2 years ago I helped organize a similar thing under the Kung Fu Federation name.

 My god maybe it was 3 years ago.

In any case, that was when the parade still went from the Hynes Convention Center.  It was fun times...

This year I had planned to go anyway, maybe with some homemade heads and no drums and then just go right into the crowd with those on afterward. But then I got these heads from Sifu Larry and Wong Keung reached out to me... so heck let's make it a big deal then!

I think tomorrow I also need to write about how busy it gets for those Chinese Americans tied to a restaurant on News Year's Eve... I did that ONE year and it was interesting. But not sure I would want that to be what I did every New Year.

Well come to the parade! Unless you are doing the Chinese Restaurant thing of course... in which case I would love to interview you about your stories at some point after the rush.

Asian Boston Lion Dance Competition video

Monday, December 26, 2016

An Interview with Ken Liu: On Boston's Chinatown and Chinatowns in general

I read Ken Liu's "The Regulator" which depicts Judith Law, a mixed race
 half Chinese cyborg like detective fighting crime in Boston, with an office
above a restaurant in Chinatown.
 I knew that Ken had lived in other places so I was curious
what his connection to Boston's Chinatown was. This Christmas my family and
 Chinatown Blog Contributor Adriana Li had the opportunity to visit other Chinatowns in

Brooklyn and also in Philadelphia. I think we learned first hand  what Ken Liu
put very concisely into words in our interview. The question I asked was
wht his ties to Boston;s Chinatown were and how he compared living
in other places with Boston.

Ken Liu:

"Boston’s Chinatown is not like anywhere else in the world.
 Its history is a reflection of the history of America’s shifting attitudes
toward Chinese immigrants as well as the very American (and ongoing)
 struggles of its inhabitants.
If you have a conversation with a business owner or resident of Chinatown,
you learn a lot about the stories beneath the superficial newspaper reports.

There’s a misconception that somehow “Chinatowns” all over America
 (or even the world) are similar to each other. 
Parts of my family have roots in the Chinatowns of Oakland and NYC,
 and they’re as different from each other as they’re from the Chinatown
 in Boston, which I’ve gotten to know as a visitor. They are, however, 
all distinctly American and reflect the essence of these United States,
 both the shiny parts as well as the not-so-beautiful parts."

I think you can see a lot of that statement in the many posts I have done and stories
I have shared... often raising eyebrows within the Chinatown community because while
people with differing opinions may talk openly with me... it is not always the case that
these mutual friends of mine will talk with each other. 

But I think it was very eye opening to see how other communities do it
. Of course we just ate in these communities. It would be more cool to 
maybe do some interviews, hang out with some of the local organizations. 
I was surprised to see that Philly has a Buddhist Temple, just as New York's
Manhattan Chinatown does... where Boston's Chinatown does not. 

It would be cool to check out the Family Associations in Boston and in other Cities 
and compare notes. I guess this could be done over social media, so it shouldn't be that hard to do.
ie I should get on that. 

I guess I didn't think about the differences as much until Ken Liu mentioned it. The truth is I know that
there are connections to a lot of the Chinatowns. At the very least, my Sifu has members of the
 same village (Hing dai) in communities or in volved in the Chinese communities in locations
all over the world, and the Family and political Associations do talk to each other, 
if only by mail correspondence.

But as Ken Liu points out.. of course each Chinatown is it's own community. 

But also, in this Social Media age... it's not hard to connect in a more meaningful way
than has been done in the past, and with little or no cost. 

More to come from our e-mail Interview with Ken Liu

Here is a list of some of his work. 

The Grace of Kings — a silkpunk epic fantasy of revolution (2015)
The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories — my debut collection (March 2016)
The Three-Body Problem (2015) and Death’s End (September 2016) — Liu Cixin’s hard SF trilogy in English
The Wall of Storms — the first sequel to The Grace of Kings (October 2016)
Invisible Planets — an anthology of contemporary Chinese SF in translation (November 2016)

Friday, December 23, 2016

My Christmas Story

            Christmas around is just around the corner. Growing up as a Jook-sing or ABC (American Born Chinese), my family didn’t celebrate Christmas. They didn’t grow up being part of the tradition, so for them they didn’t celebrate it with me and my brother. The only thing they did do around December was plug in a ceramic Christmas tree lamp, and put it by the window in my room. It was a nice lamp and it felt very festive.
At the time, it didn’t bother me because my parents didn’t make a big deal out of it so I didn’t make a big deal out of it either. On TV, all you can watch was A Christmas Story and other Christmas movies. Even the kids at Josiah Quincy School, didn’t say much about it since they were on the same boat as I was. Then one year later, after Christmas vacation, one of the teachers asked who got presents from Santa or from their presents. What I remember most about that day was the number of hands being raised. I couldn’t believe it, I didn’t raise my hand because the hand raise would only show how I wanted to feel like being part of something. When the truth would’ve been falsified anyways.
The year after, I decided for me and my brother to finally understand the feeling of getting presents on Christmas. My Brother and I saved some money from last year’s Chinese New Year. The only store we could get to with the access to toys was CVS. We both agreed to get an action figure for each other and not those plastic army soldiers. We went to CVS and each took turns looking for a toy, while the other looked at the magazines. We paid separately but left the store together. We asked the cashier to double bag the toy, so that way, the toy wouldn’t be able to reveal itself. When we got home, we didn’t have wrapping paper. We used Chinese newspapers to wrap the toy and used color pencils to write our names on it. We left the presents next to the ceramic Christmas tree lamp by our window. On Christmas day, when we wake up we both said Merry Christmas to each other and handed each other the present. My Brother got me an X-Men toy and I got him a Power Ranger. The tradition didn't continue the year after but it was the thought that counts and it was enough to say it was a good Christmas. šŸŽ„šŸŽ…

The Perfect Christmas Gift

Adriana, my wife, my friend Carlos Barbosa from the Cape Verde New Network and my students who cosmically happened to be at this pot while the filming happened all unbeknownst to me resulted in an amazing Christmas gift which shows what can be accomplished by a few people putting their minds, will power and creativity together.

There are a lot of inside jokes here, which I think could be revealed in future posts. But I wanted to make sure this made it up onto the blog.

Comparing Chinatowns

I had asked Ken Liu, author of the Paper Menagerie, how he compared living in California vs. Massachusetts and what he thought of Boston's Chinatown. He said something that really got me thinking. That people tend to think that all the Chinatown's are the same (and in my own defense that misconception, there is a lot of connections between the Chinatowns organizationally and otherwise) but that each Chinatown has it's own personality.

Today going through the Chinatown in Brooklyn, which at first we had been led to believe was but one street long.. (which is true but it is one LONG street)  I felt the energy, promise and movement that seemed to exist in Boston;s Chinatown in the 1990's. And it was quite clean as well. As I mention in my other blog, there are videos to follow, but those have to be edited etc.

My fellow Contributor Adriana Li, took the trip with us ad probably has a ton to say about her own experiences of the Chinatown that many people don't even know about.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Fertilized Duck eggs

We took a trip to Pailin Plaza again today to have an amazing lunch at the Red Rose and also do some shopping. Grace bought some glutinous rice flour to make some more Tang Yuans today. She wanted to try her hand at the Taiwanese style soup that is salty.

I looked at the prepared foods, Catfish skewered on a stick, and I was told they also made this with a mango salad. I had wanted to get this to go but in the end it slipped my mind.

We passed by some large looking eggs that looked like, "Are these duck eggs?"

The woman at the register told us that they were in fact fertilized duck eggs and then told us a hilarious story about a customer who thought they were unfertilized duck eggs and then broke them open for his children, who will now, no longer eat eggs.

I thought about getting them for my kids specifically with that intention.

Actually, now that I think of it, there is some educational value in doing that. In fact, cutting up a stomach or liver, or kidneys, is probably pretty useful too. I mean if you put that same type of thing in formaldehyde and have a teacher let you touch it with 30 other kids looking on, that's considered a good science program and you pay for the teacher, the building, the union...

But if you do that same thing at home... you can call it lunch too.

Of course it helps to have the books that show where the organs go or explain the development of the duck in the egg and afterward.

Maybe next time for the Duck eggs too then.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Ken Liu's "The Paper Menagerie and other Stories."

I just started reading this book by Ken Liu. I love it. I feel like the universe placed it in front of me to read. It's Science Fiction stuff that sometimes takes place in the past, whether it is fox demon robots in China and Hong Kong, the 288 incident in Taiwan, to a detective story in Boston's Chinatown. I mean this was the stuff I was writing about in me books... except it's in the mainstream!

 I can't believe it!

But also, a lot of Asian American fiction I read has a chip on it's shoulder. This deals with a lot of issues, political and otherwise, but it also deals with stuff like Facebook and Google without mentioning real company names. The characters often happen to be Asian, and it's not that it doesn't matter that they are as the story often deals with this... but it's not obsessive compulsive about it.

One of the stories made me laugh out loud because the detective, Judith Law, speaking about why she had her Private Eye office in Chinatown, says, "You can't beat the rent." I guess maybe compared to the financial district. Or maybe the story was written sometime ago even though it is about the future. It's kind of like how Ghosts in the Shell takes place in a futuristic Hong Kong, but depicts slums and an airport that no longer exist.

But Ken Liu must be from Boston or have some sort of Boston connection. Which means somehow we need to get an interview with him for this blog for sure.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Dongzhi: The Chinese Winter Solstice Holiday

The Winter Solstice Holiday is a big deal for Chinese people. But I did not grow up with this holiday. Maybe because Christmas is also the winter solstice holiday and it was a time for me to reconnect with my mother's side of the family (the white side) in Philly. But after I had kids I started noticing the Tang Yuan they made at BCNC and Facebook updates and it occurred to me that yes I was sort of introduced to this holiday by my Sifu the few times that I did not visit my relatives for Christmas.

Mostly it was just that Si Mo would bring over containers of soup (Salty soup) with the Tang Yuan in it. It was only once at the Kung Fu school that I sampled a hastily made sugary soup by Sifu, and the circumstances were so strange that it leads me to believe that there are superstitions about the holiday that you cannot find on Facebook.

Basically I still had work the next morning... but suddenly, I think at mid night, Sifu not only started getting up and cooking, he woke me up like there was some sort of emergency. I think my Si Hing was there as well. I mean the urgency was like that of a fire or someone breaking in, but instead I just sat where we usually ate.

We didn't eat around a table. There was a counter and then we gathered chairs in a circle around it but it wasn't like we were actually at the counter.

I thought Sifu was just hungry or something because he started quickly making these weird balls of flour or whatever. I made them too.

"What are these..." before I could ask "for" it was, "Moh cho, mo lei kui, nei gun ji ngau dei sic duc le."

Don't worry about it just follow along.

So he made the sugary soup and the glutinous balls and frankly, I thought this was one of the most awesome things I ever had. This would make like the perfect American food because you have the sweet thing going on and the chewy glutinous thing going on.

How do you make this?

 There's Tapioca?

There's ginger?

 What else is in here?

My Si Hing's question was different.

"You like this?"

"Yeah? Don't you? You're eating it."

"I just eat it. I don't like it."

"What the hell is going on?" was my thought.

"We just eat this tonight that's why I'm eating it."

So basically that's my Chinese Dongzhi story. And as much as people send me links or I look on Wikipedia, I still don't really understand the holiday or why I had to get up at midnight to eat Tangyuan. I'm saying the time of the eating of these things seemed to be very important. Like it had to do with spirits or something.

In England, Christmas is also very much a spooky Holiday. More about Spirits and ghosts, perhaps than it is in the United States.

Now if you tell Chinese that the Solstice is like Christmas they will say, "No no no no... different."

But actually, no no no no, the origin of Christmas is in non Christian traditions and similarly, it's the dead of winter, the greenery is hung up to thing about spring, there is eating of heavy meaty foods because you probably have to kill these animals off before the rest of winter anyway, and yeah.. it's the same thing, it just got Christianized.

So my first (and really only) attempt at passing the Dongzhi holiday onto my children was to combine holidays to save time. Again, it was a year when we did not visit my relatives in Pennsylvania. So Santa Claus (based on the Nordic Odin) would visit this house. Cookies and milk being left out is just lame. So we mad ethe Tang Yuan for Odin. Since Odin had left his eye in the pool of Mimir at the bottom of the World Tree Ygysdrassil (yeah the Christmas Tree whatever) and hung on the tree as a sacrifice (like the many ornaments hung on our fake tree) I figured what the hell. Let's leave out these balls that kind of look liek eyeballs for Odin. And Call the Tangyuan Odin's eye balls. It was pretty fun to make them. Like playing with play dough... and then eating it.

Now of course there were other times where we ate with other people during the holiday... but I didn't feel any pageantry about the holiday. Maybe there is none. I wouldn't know. I think we do have that glutinous rice flour in the kitchen somewhere. I mean it's so easy, I guess I will make them tomorrow. They have frozen ones with red bean already inside them as well.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Chinatown Christmas: Making Shelves for Fei Ma @ Top Ten

I went to Groton, a boarding school in MA near New Hampshire. Christmas was often a time to return to Boston and to Moh Goon, the Kung Fu school in Tai Tung Village. One time Fei Ma, (the woman who owned and ran Top Ten) would come over and visit. We had a student that worked at the Post Office and she got to talking to him because as it turned out, she also worked at the post office. I wondered if there was ever a time when she wasn't working. I mean we saw her in Top Ten all the time.

She was thinking of taking the holidays off which was a big no no at the post office. But I imagine, she was planning to do she could cover the desk at Top Ten.

In any event one time she came over with many pieces of wood. I would imagine they were some type of Composite. The white type that you would get at Ikea.

She asked if me and Jing could make shelves for her. We would get some sort of discount off videos or whatever.

Side note: One of the Kung Fu students said that for a Kung Fu school to Have a TV was a bad idea. But if your Kung Fu School was actually some sort of secret clubhouse, like you see kids would have on TV as their Tree house, then it was awesome. Kung Fu and Gangster movies were played all the time. We had a rice cooker and hot plate there. Yo I lived there at one point. If you think about it, it was the ultimate secret Ninja Turtle lair or whatever hiding in plain site... and yeah we would do Kung Fu too.

So I had just taken a shop class at Groton. We had made a nightstand and were shown how to do measurements and what not. So I start doing that when Jing goes, "Why not just drill them all at once? Then they'll all be in the same place."

So we stack them all and go with that. Or was it Bak Gwai who suggested doing that?

So Bak Gwai, confusingly, was not Caucasian. He was a pale skinned Chinese guy who did handyman work and had happened to stop by. Everyone was stopping by all the time, but even more so during Christmas break it seemed. Not that any of these Chinese people celebrated Christmas at the time.

Of course all their cute little children would grow up to be Evangelized and mock Buddhism and the Chinese religion for being heathenistic religions of False idols. (This is why when I decided to try Church with the kids I opted for Catholicism. Which reveres the Saints.)

So in typical Chinese fashion Bak Gwai (who is Chinese) is watching me and Jing while leaning to one side crossing his arms and saying stuff in Cantonese. You may wonder that when Bak Gwai was around what people called me. The answer is simple. Gwai Jai. In fact Bak Gwai had given me the name when he referred to me as such not realizing that I spoke Cantonese.

So miraculously we put the shelves together in the most make shift way I had yet witnessed at the time only to realize we had done all this at Moh Goon, while Top Ten was across the Street, and why the hell hadn't we just built them over THERE. So we carry them over and stack them (rather dangerously I might add)

Fei Ma starts stacking all the video tapes up and Jing tells her to wait for the Liang lui to help her. Fei Ma said that only Liang Jai (the one guy I remember who worked at the store) would be there to help her.

Liang Jai (aka Handsome boy) was in fact Fan Huang, Chinatown and Malden business mogul, restaurateur and club owner. Reading Willy Jim's Post about Top Ten made all these memories resurface. Especially as we approach the holidays and I realize how different they are for me now than they were 15 years ago.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Star Wars First

            A couple of decades ago in a galaxy that’s not so far away, Donnie Yen born on July 27, 1963, he hails from Guangzhou, China, moved to Hong Kong when he was two and then to Boston at eleven. His mother, Bow-sim Mark is a Fu Style Wudangquan and Tai Chi grandmaster, while his Father, Klyster Yen, is a newspaper editor and musician.
            At a young age, Yen developed an interested in martials due to his mother’s influence. He experimented various styles such as Tai Chi and traditional Chinese marital arts. The interest of martial arts not only allowed him to develop his skill but also, helped him step into Chinese film industry.
            I remember watching films such as Tiger Cage 2, New Dragon Gate Inn, and Iron Monkey 1 & 2. At a young age, I just loved  how fast he was, he style was different. One of my favorite scenes is the final fight in Tiger Cage 2 between him and Robin Shou. It was a short bout but Yen did perform the Superman punch on Robin Shou, the Superman punch before becoming a signature move in UFC and wrestling.
Tiger Cage 2 - Superman Punch
            Growing up watching Donnie Yen evolve as an actor, I was hoping, he would breakout in Hollywood. He did star in films like Blade II and Shanghai Knights but those films didn’t really give him the international star status, not till Ip Man. After Ip Man films, he started to become a recognizable face. Some of my non-Asian friends will ask me what other films has Donnie Yen starred in. He’s been a recognizable face in martial arts films, now, he will be in a much bigger universe, Star Wars. I promise no spoilers. Donnie Yen lands a role as Chirrut Imwe, a Force sensitive blind monk (not a Jedi, sorry), but that would've been awesome!!
Rogue One - Chirrut Imwe

            After watching Rogue One this past week, I want to point out, it was a great heist film and having Donnie Yen be part of the film, makes it, so much sweeter. His role in the film is not just about how he moves around as a blind man knocking down Stormtroopers. Having him being the first Chinese actor to appear in Star Wars is astronomical because it shows how anything is starting to become possible. And sometime later in 2017, he will star as Xiang in XXX: Return of Xander Cage, another Hollywood film.
            I must say, been a fan of him since I was young and Star Wars too. I have the tattoos to prove it and no, not Donnie Yen tattoos. Words can’t express how I feel but it’s breathtaking to have someone who grew up in Chinatown, Boston to appear in Star Wars. It's the pride as a Bostonian and someone who grew up in Chinatown could brag about. I would imagine, he is humble and grateful to be part of this universe but honestly, myself and the fans is more humble and grateful for him to be part of this universe. And for that I say thank you.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

B.D. Wong "100 eyes" on Marco Polo

I binge watched all of Marco Polo. You know the more I watched the better it got, and I feel like all the concerns I had the beginning were not so much unwarranted (racism, sexism, orientalism, white savior depiction) but they were dealt with, especially in Season 2. It took me a while to put it together that the BD Wong I was seeing in the credits was 100 eyes. I just didn't recognize him. I mean his Kung Fu is good in this show. I know that film editing has improved and there are a lot of places where you can use stuntmen in a way that maybe you couldn't do so as easily in the past. ButI feel like BD Wong's hands are way better than the poses Marco is holding out. Did BD Wong learn Martial arts just for this series? Or has he been practicing all this time knowing that the "Old Master" role is not only inevitable for Asian Actors as they age.... but is probably also the most profitable.

They had a spin off episode about 100 eyes... and you could totally do a spin off series with BD Wong, Michelle Yeoh, and Olivia Cheng where they travel town to town saving people etc. This role could be what Miyagi was for Pat Morita.

It could also be more child friendly than Marco Polo.

Will they do it? I don't know. But I have to say this was one of the best Masters on screen I have seen in a while. I never thought of BD Wong as a Kung Fu guy. I know he did action movies before, but let me compare him to some other actors that do Martial Arts movies. His hands are way better than Daniel Wu in scenes where the actors are doing Tai Chi alone. BD Wong is better than Keanu Reeves as well. In fact at first I seriously thought they had just gotten a martial artists out of nowhere to play the Sifu. It's part of the reason why i just couldn't recognize him. I think he was more believable than Chow Yun Fat frankly. Is it more the skills of the film editor and director? One of the other Concubines, (not Olivia Cheng) looked horrible to me. And even the crooked minister, who is in many martial arts scenes where he looks competent looked horrible to me during the first few fights when he is trying to do Mantis.

I thought Maybe BD Wong took 10 years to master all sorts of Martial Arts preparing for this moment. If not, then he is seriously a fantastic actor that is able to just embody Kung Fu simply by pretending to know it or picking up for the purposes of the show.

I mean seriously, David Carradine always looked sub par. All that time playing a Kung Fu master and it seems he never really managed to pick it up.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Top Ten

When I was young, I attended Kwong Kow Chinese School for a couple of years and there I found one of the best collections, Dragon Ball cards. Before the cards, I was already familiar with Dragon ball universe because I’ve seen couple of the movies such as DBZ: Broly – The Legendary Super Saiyan, DBZ: Super Android 13, and DBZ: Bojack Unbound. These films were my earliest exposure to anime.
My DBZ card collection

At Kwong Kow, kids will pull out binders and huge card cases to show off their collection. I asked one of the kids, where he brought his cards and he told on Top Ten Video and Music store. Top Ten was down the street right around the corner on Harrison Avenue. Me and my cousins would walk pass it. Top Ten is where I started my Dragon Ball card collection. I just needed a few to start off with. They were more than just cards and stickers, they were our commodity, we would trade cards to build the best collection.  
My DBZ card collection

So many great memories going toTop Ten, I would walk up to the counter and the Lady would already knew what I was looking for, Dragon Ball cards. There was a box with random single cards which went for a quarter but if you wanted the sticker cards those were in the vending machine. Oh yes, a vending machine that dispenses cards between 50 cents to a dollar. And if you wanted the valuable cards, those were behind the glass counter. I never had the money for those but I know, I probably spent a couple of hundred dollars on the regular cards.
Vending Machine

Growing up with Dragon Ball was such an epic of pure enjoyment. The Dragon Ball cards would capture their power pose with hands out creating an energy ball or wave (Kamehameha or Final Flash) ready to disperse and their faces with mouths wide open screaming on top of their lungs. The louder the scream, the more energy and strength will provide to their attack. I use to do a lot of those power poses, foot standing apart, both hands draw back, taking a deep breath before thrusting both hands out with an epic scream.
Top Ten 2009

I should say if it wasn’t for attending Kwong Kow in Chinatown, I wouldn’t have discovered this treasure that holds dearly to my heart. But sadly, the original Top Ten doesn’t exist there anymore. Top Ten is still there but it does not sell Dragon Ball cards, so please, don’t go in and ask. Unless, you plan to buy lottery tickets, tea, and medicine. The Dragon Ball cards, I grew up with are not available for sale anywhere in Chinatown anymore. And don’t be fooled by the Dragon Ball playing cards in Target or Walmart because those are not the same. I do want to point out, it’s a great time to be a Dragon Ball fan again or a new fan because its back. Akira Toriyama is at it again with the new Dragon Ball Super!!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

James Michael Curley: A Short Biography by William M Bulger

I started reading this book after running into Auntie Amy Guen in Chinatown. It turns out hse started working for the City in 1947 and we ahd been talking about Curley because my sons go to the school bearing his name.

"Oh so you worked with Curley?"

"Well." she laughed, "He was in jail."

All I ever really learned about Curley was the corruption, but Bulger's version (a controversial political figure himself who I only met once, at an Oak Tin Association Banquet where I was performing lion dance) tells that side, yes, but also everything else, which I did not know.

This is the Chinatown Blog so to tie it into past posts I would say that a) Curley is everything that is missing from modern Boston Politics. It's what I have been pining for in Chinatown. It's like when Tony Leung Ka Fai in the Triad Zone puts out a hit and says to make sure that it is "ho ho tai tai."

I mean this and this and this happened,... but what about the theater!

I also know that Curley would have done damn well in this twitter age and glancing through his own book, "I'd do it again" I realize that it's not so much that times have changed. It's that people and attitudes have.

b) Bulger mentions the New Boston reform that takes place after Curley is out of office.

Now before I go on I have to mention that John Hynes was mayor at this point and as a Nativity alumn I'm not sure if he is related to Barry T. Hynes but I feel loyal to the name nonetheless.

That being said it was under his administration that the New Boston reforms came about including the razing on Scollay Square. Scollay Square was the old combat zone. And as Bulger mentions nobody really likes the City Hall that sits there now. It is interesting to think how the city would have developed, how Chinatown would have developed, had Scollay square stayed. The new Combat Zone that popped up on the edge of Chinatown would never have been. And Chinatown would not necessarily have been associated with that side of things. Well at least not Boston's Chinatown.

Auntie Amy mentioned Curley having a childhood friend who was Chinese. I'll have to get that story out later and that's for another post comparing ethnic groups in Boston which I'll get to at some point.

It is interesting that I am from Boston and yet the way my own history, even of the Irish, who supposedly run the City, that was shown to me was quite different from what I just read. As much as Irish are supposedly white, there is still a very anti-Irish sentiment perpetuated in academia simply by focusing on certain aspects of the culture and downplaying positive aspects.

In any case, I read the book because i realized that you can not divorce Chinatown's history from Boston history and American History like it's a separate thing.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Naked Asian woman fights three soldiers in Marco Polo on Netflix

I'm addicted to this series. It's the closest thing to a Wuxia series in English I've seen. But right of the bat, as someone who actually read Marco Polo's book, I was like, "This is not the Kublai Khan that Marco described." Shoot Marco was all about how Kublai Khan was the greatest leader there ever was, and he published the book in Europe so it 's not that he was under duress when he printed it. Wrote maybe, but to Marco Polo Kublai Khan was the savior of the world. But the Kublai Khan in the series is leaning more towards a villain. Though if you look at it from the perspective of past American Series, like Fu Manchu, than this series is progressive.

Before watching it you can already say, "Oh white guy in Asia show." And perhaps looking at my face you may think, "Well of course he's going to like it."

And indeed I usually try not to be the one to cry wolf about things being racist or sexist or fetishizing Asian women. But for certain right of the bat, there is definitely a difference between this series and the Return of the Condor Heroes, or the more recent series about Ghengis Khan.

I think I really had to examine the Asian fetish thing with the scene where the Imperial Consort, her brother having given permission for some generals to have sex with her, starts off doing a Tai Chi/ Ballet influenced dance naked. I was like, "This is hot.... but this definitely has not happened in the Chinese series I watched." I mean maybe in a porno. But usually in those period pieces the woman is stripped down to "underwear" which still covers her arms let alone everything else and it's already like, "Ahhh I'm naked even though I'm practically wearing a sweater."

So this is totally something an American would do, what with the Tai Chi move thrown in there too.

But then she uses her  jade pin like a "ngum hei" and does a butterfly aerial kick (Naked still!) and fights the soldiers. At one point a Gik is thrust at her which she passes and drives into the chest of one of the soldiers behind her. She kills the last dude and then gets into "arrest me position" of the modern era hand on her head and on her knees.

There could be an argument that this was empowering. Sure it was. It was also hot, and exoticized and innovative because I've never seen a martial arts scene quite like it.

I mean, probably wouldn't have done that with an Asian male right? Where he is hyper sexualized and naked and kung fu-ing the hell out of dudes naked. I had actually thought of filming a scene like that myself. 10 years ago.


In the end she is a prostitute, a high class one but still. There is a Mongolian female character that is also strong... and more wholesome. Also ends up doing Marco Polo outside after wrestling him to the ground.

She's on top.

So is this a step forward from Anna Mei Wong in Charlie Chan or from the Tai Pan? I think it's actually along the same lines. But this article isn't a "boycott Marco Polo" piece. Nah. I love it. I'm going to binge watch it. But it's definitely got some issues. To be fair, it's more like Game of Thrones in Asia... except as always they main character has to be white... and he learns Kung Fu... and he gets some Asian girls.

But I think some of the Mongolian Characters might actually be Mongolian actors. I mean I can't be sure but I feel like it's possible. I mean if you want to say "racist" Mulan sure was racist against the huns right?

And like a lot of the older generation Asian Actors said about being on Kung Fu.. at least it meant they got work. I think Pat Morita talked most about that. That the ones complaining about the roles being racist usually were not the ones hired for the role.

But yeah it's racist and sexist. But I think it tries.

I like it better than Daniel Wu's series... which I totally watched only because he was in it. But the fight scenes were the same old thing, violence for the sake of violence, and I actually felt dirty afterward like I had watched violence porn. Whereas Marco Polo, problematic as it is, I do feel like I get something out of the series. It's good. You should watch it. Of course others on the blog may disagree and I welcome their opinions in posts or comments.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Passing on of General Tso's Chicken

Photo Credit: Taiwan News
As everyone should know by now, the news is sad with the passing of Chef Peng Chang-Kuei on 11/30/2016 at 98. He was the inventor of General Tso’s chicken and founder of Hunan-style restaurant, Peng’s Garden Restaurant.
Chef Peng began cooking at age 13 and later, became the banquet chef for China's Nationalist government. In 1952, he was invited by the U.S. Navy Admiral, Arthur Radford to cook. Less than inspired, he fried a couple chunks of chicken and threw some ingredients together to create something new. The admiral loved the dish and asked Chef Peng what's the name of the dish? He named it on the spot: General Tso's Chicken. He honored the personage of General Zuo Zongtang - an undefeated 19th century military man from Hunan. 
            In a way, he was a big part of Chinatown because he created a finger licking good recipe. Cutting the chicken in big chunks, flouring it, then frying it is the easy part of the recipe. The sauce is the key to the dish. It's everything that makes it taste so amazing.
            Growing up, I know, I have eaten this dish over probably 8 or 9 dozen times. When I was young, it was my go to dish, my comfort food. When I walk into a Chinese restaurant, without looking at the menu:
            “General Tso’s chicken with white rice, please and thank you,” I say.
It was one of those dishes I never get tired of. I loved it so much, my Dad taught me how to make it when I was young. Even now, I’m still not tired of it but I don’t eat it as much as I used to.
One of the things I learned about the dish for the past couple of years is, it’s an authentic Chinese dish. I used to think it was American because of the frying and the use of the sauce, but I was wrong. I think about it now; the dish is an inspiration to several dishes. Chefs could draw their inspiration from this dish that the sauce is inspiring them to make something new. When you go into Chinatown and dine-in at a Chinese restaurant, look at the menu. You’ll see dishes similar to General Tso’s chicken such as Orange chicken or beef, Sesame chicken, King Do ribs, and the list can go on. And let’s not forget the appetizer sauce, duck sauce, not those packets that look identical to ketchup packets. Real duck sauce that come in small containers. It would seem the dish’s sauce is adaptable.
I just want to say, even though he’s physically gone, in spirit he lives on through the dishes of inspiration and even his own, General Tso’s chicken. Remember, when you take bite of the chicken, you can hear the crunch, and your tongue is dancing around that sauce, that's when you know it's finger licking good.

Trumps Taiwan Connection

Asking a few friends from Taiwan about their thoughts about Trumps phone call with Tsai Ing-wen, I found out that first of all, the responses are varied on the streets of Taiwan, probably as much as in the U.S. And that the most reasonable response was similar, that Trumps phone call must have been some sort of blunder, a mistake. Even if it was calculated it was a mistake, and the result can only mean more sanctions from the PRC. However, there was some response that even if it was a mistake... at least someone got under the PRC's skin.

Now a lot of analysts (not in Taiwan but in the U.S.) are saying that maybe it wasn't a mistake at all. Trump has Henry Kissinger on board, so even if Trump supposedly doesn't know what he is doing, Kissinger certainly does. And that the phone call was planned, two weeks in advanced, and that perhaps it was simply a way to test China's reaction. After all, Trump is not actually the president of the United States right now. He is President elect, but until he is sworn in, he is just another citizen. So he can get away with all sorts of stuff right now. So if you are going to test or see a bet and raise now is the time to do it. When you can always fall back on the excuse that "Oh I'm just an idiot and I'm not even president." It keeps China on their toes doesn't it?

But if that is the case then Trump is totally using Taiwan like a gambling chip. Something that can be risked. Something that can be thrown away.... or is he?

Truth is, just like Trump promised, he is being unpredictable. And it is difficult to figure out if he is being a fool, or an evil genius, or a combination of both. Or perhaps he is just following orders from the Republican Party after all. If we think back to Bush's presidency he visited Taiwan and did not visit Beijing and had all these snubs against the PRC. It's Republican protocol. Trump hasn't really snubbed China. They can interpret talking to Taiwan as a snub but actually think that through and even China can't actually be mad about that. They just have to issue some sort of response to show that they still care, sort of. 

China's reaction was honestly the typical culturally Chinese reaction of trying to save face as far as I'm concerned. 

I swear to god you will see all these same reactions in the microcosm of a small neighborhood. But anyway, I guess now the analysis I am looking for is from Chinese Americans who are heavily involved with the KMT and what they think about the whole issue. 

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Chinatown Christmas Tree Lighting 1:45 by Eldo's Cake House and Asian Garden

Boston Chinatown Blog gets ready to cover the event!

Boston Chinatown Blog correspondent Adriana Li is covering the tree lighting and will have posts coming soon. Being there made me think of the last time I was there, over 5 years ago. Wong's Family Association and Woo Ching White Crane were doing lion dance for the festivities. I thought it was a great idea... Gilbert Ho's vision was to add that Chinatown flavor to the visiting Santa Claus. A lot of the Mandarin-speaking Chinese families waiting in line were more awestruck by Santa Claus and some of my friends just weren't feeling the mixing of traditions and two Holidays. When I was a kid, Chinese children were afraid of Santa Claus. How times have changed.

For me, being mixed, I was all over it. After all Christmas is now huge in China, with fat white guys from New Hampshire and with real beards raking it in in for a two week vacation in Shenzhen hotels (or so I have read).

And I feel like Mainstream America would totally be down for tacking on the Lunar New Year and the magic of Dragons and Lions and Kei Luns onto the end of the Christmas and Western New year Holiday. We just need some holiday specials where the Lions save Santa Claus or something like that.

Well the Mayor and Santa should be pulling up to Chinatown in their magical trolley right now. Let's see what Adriana Li  brings us from her view on the ground.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Go Taiwan! Go America!

I was going to post some of the ranting crazy things I shouted this morning. But instead I will hold off on that. But I will do is post this old video of the Double Ten Parade and say positive things. Go Taiwan R.O.C! Taiwan is a great island. A democracy and our ally. America is a great country too. Do we have mistakes we are making.. right now? Standing Rock comes to mind... but all in all we are a great country.

I see a lot of articles against talking on the phone with a friend by our president elect.

I have had people act like I can't talk to some of my friends if I want to remain friends with them. I respect everyone but I do not allow others to determine who I talk to.

Frankly I have seen this same sort of thing that is happening globally on a micro-cosmic level, and even if you don't want to go around starting wars.. you do not allow others to tell you who you are friends with.  As for geo-politics? I guess I will get some quotes and throw some things together later.

Playing with the new heads

Photo Credit: Adriana Li

Friday, December 2, 2016

Two new Lion Heads

I was teaching my class at Nativity Prep and we talked about what we got out of the Lion Dance Competition. Thanks to Sifu Larry, I think the most physical thing I can point to beyond connections, friendships, and experience, is two new lion heads. We finished up our routine and he told me, "I have an old head that I'm going to donate to you guys."

But they really do look brand new, and yes there is two of them.

I cannot explain how much of a big deal this is to our team. Right now we are practicing with homemade heads. And actually, I think we might continue to practice with those, and save the nicer looking ones for performances.

I also have a group of 1st graders and younger who practice at the house. Shoot I can totally do a big show for Chinese New Year in Jamaica Plain now. At the library, or at the Curley school, or maybe at Nativity. I have to get on that in terms of reserving space etc.