Thursday, March 31, 2016

BCEC and the spiritual vaccuum

I got a chance to talk to Pastor Steven Chin after the Easter service, and though it was harried because my kids were wrestling and a lot of stuff was going on he gave me some good insights. The first thing I really asked was why did he think that BCEC has so much success? I mean crowds and crowds.

So Steven said that he actually was not raised Christian. In fact, most of the people that I know from BCEC were not raised Christian either (though Le from my last post was)
I'm afraid to put quotes here because obviously I can't remember exactly what Pastor Steven said.. but the gist of it is that Chinese people are actually not that religious. That people ask what most Chinese people believe in are the Buddhist or what have you but actually know they aren't any of that, and what they worship is actually money, career, and the here and now.

So again, these are vaguely what Pastor Steven Says from HIS experience growing up. I asked him if his household had an altar etc. and he said no, that there was words you couldn't say around Chinese New Year and certain superstitions but that's it.

Now I have actually talked a lot about religion from MY perspective on my Kung Fu Dad blog, but let's talk about what Pastor Steven thinks for now and then maybe we'll add stuff for another post.

So basically Chinese have a spiritual vacuum. They are told to work hard make money get into MIT get a good career and they will be happy. But a lot of them make it and then they aren't happy.

Now I will bring up another thing Pastor Steven said which is that the assumption (again from his perspective) is that a lot of people who would be attracted to Christianity are "weak minded" or "superstitious" people.

The weak minded thing I have read from the original reactions Roman and Greek Philosophers had to the early Christians... but you only read about that stuff from Christian literature .. so that's why I wasn't surprsied to hear him say that. I mean you won't hear that Christians are weak minded if you went to Nativity, then Groton, then Stonehill. You will hear other arguments but not that one.

In any case Pastor Steven continued that, the case for BCEC was that they had a lot of young MIT students scientists Doctors and that type of people joining. I.e. not weak minded.

So why join?

Basically there are a lot of these people who are unhappy even though they have everything their parents told them to get.. so they go through a spiritual crisis and turn to religion. I say turn to religion instead of turn to God. Pastor Steven said turn to God, because from his standpoint and the stand point little pamphlet he handed me, there is only ONE God and one way to that god and that's Christ... but that is something I think I'll leave alone for the conversation I have with him later.

But what are the spiritual options in Chinatown? New York has a big Buddhist Temple. But Boston? No. There is a Buddhist Temple in Cambridge. But overwhelmingly the option for organized religion in Chinatown is Christianity.

Some people turn to the Kung Fu schools. I know this because I taught at one for so long and people came to me for Spiritual guidance even though they were older than me. In this respect I was not so spiritual because I always tried to rationalize everything from an atheists and scientific perspective as well. Mainly because I viewed religious fanaticism as dangerous back then, especially when tied to Kung Fu. I still think fanaticism is dangerous... but everyone at BCEC seems so nice. So they would not be labeled as fanatics. However I will admit that I am already out when I see the word "ONLY"  on the pamphlet. There are some pretty close minded Catholics as well but Pope John Paul II had a good relationship with other religions.

 Abrahamic and otherwise.

And there are some pretty close minded Buddhists as well. However I don't get a lot of literature with the words ONLY right on it. But again I am friends with a good number of people from BCEC and it seems to be providing a good service to the community. There is another Church over by Bay Village too that I went to one Easter, and I think I have to write about them as well, because these churches all together are a huge part of the Chinatown Community.

But the point is, for people who go to BCEC, they have found their answer to happiness and have found that spirituality within Chinatown and a community to be a part of.  I picked up some literature with testimonials and all that. I even took a New Testament Bible because I thought the idea of it was cool. I have to tell you, people think I'm not Christian because there is a lot I don't buy into. But even before I decided that I could actually consider myself a Christian, I had studied a ton of Abrahamic scripture (as a Buddhist) and I totally made decisions based on the whole "What would Jesus do in this Situation" and frankly it got me into a lot of trouble. More on that later (or hidden between the lines in my other posts probably mostly in Kung Fu Dad)

So basically I have been some kind of Christian my whole life and now I would say yes, I am a Christian. But I think most Christians would see me as a non Christian because , guess what? I'm also a pagan, and I follow the Chinese folk religion (loosely) and I have my own interpretations, and I follow Buddhist philosphy and draw from a lot of sources. The reason why I say I am a Christian is because that is the story that is most engrained in my mind. The question was whether or not I could accept Christ, the answer is yes, but my Jesus behaves and says different things than BCEC's or even St. James's for sure. (Of course everyone has a different interpretation and mine is molded primarily from Fr. Cullen's teaching though again I have a very Buddhist interpretation of the Gospel)

But I don't think that means I'm not Christian.

Well I got off topic...

But what I really need is BCEC members  or other Chinatown Christians to chip in with posts. Also Chi Gung adn Falun Gung and Taoists and Buddhists around Chinatown too. And let me know where you practice your religion I would love to come to some services if I have time.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Spears " I think I found my calling"

Today was the last day of my First Baptist Church class. My friends (and students) got me a gift. A 1940's antique police night stick. (It's actually just the right size for the dan do form aka Mo ching do.) I put it up on my altar (my altar is a fusion altar more on that later)

What I wanted to blog about was that, on a whim, I decided last week that the final class I would teach Dai Do cherng

Kristen took hold of the spear (we only learned sticks) and something clicked. I mean everyone's basics have been getting better and better. But she was just able to do the moves right away.

I forgot about how invigorating it can be to do this stuff. I had fun watching them have fun.

So above is an old clip of me and one of my Si Hing's doing the double sword and spear form. The Big knife and sword has to be somewhere but, hey I just didn't find it.

Kristen and Vinh are excited to learn this form and maybe even perform for August moon. Will it look like the form above? Well we had trained for 10 years prior to practicing this, and we practiced a lot. But yes,  they will look something like that sure. At least based on what I saw tonight. Why? Because they work as a team and they are having fun. They will be performing the same form, but in their own way and own tempo, which I look forward to watching.

 I had forgotten that Kung Fu isn't all about the performance. It's about the doing it. How much fun you can have actually performing the Kung Fu. And when you are having fun, the people watching can tell and they are there cheering for you. I liked watching them do the form and I know Kung Fu, I know the secret tricks... I mean I just showed them to them. So the average audience member should like it too.

Burning the Lion Head for Henry Yee

(Video Courtesy of Seldon Su)

Well, after the lion dance for the funeral, the head is burned. To me, this means that there is actually a lion head going with Henry Yee. You could say to protect him or whatever. I mean it's the same as burning the money right? At some point all of us started casting our shirts in as well. Partially because we didn't wnat to bring those shirts home with us as a superstition. Zhou suk said, "No way! I'm not burning mine. I say it's luckier now. I'm so old why would I be afraid of such things."

It was just interesting that all the young men ended up being more superstitious than an old Chinese man. Just goes to show you can't stereotype.

Casting the shirt into the fire, well I guess you could say Henry Yee has a whole team going with him too. Not us. But that's what the shirts kind of represent right?

I have never even seen this ritual before, and the only other time I have seen a uniform burned in a fire was actually at Groton, when John Lyons cast a football jersey into a flame which legally we had to call a campfire instead of a bonfire. The only reason why I mention it is that football tradition must have some origin.. probably going all the way back to pre-Christian Europe. Or maybe not. Maybe someone just made it up. But I was reminded of it during this ceremony. And I mention it now only to say that we are all very similar, we humans, in our traditions and our customs and beliefs, more so than we think.

The point is to many non Chinese Americans watching this video, this ritual will not seem strange.. but instead strangely familiar, and there was some sort of bond between all of us taking part in it, a bond between us that was connected to Henry Yee's spirit, in a way that spoken or written words can't bring out as easilu as a physical act. A fire, a sacrifice, a doing of something to bring us all together in a time of mourning and grief.

Henry Yee of the Kung Fu Federation (Last Lion Dance)

(video courtesy of Seldon Su)

I have done many lion dances for the Kung Fu Federation banquet and for Kung Fu Federation events. I remember one time we went to Mohegan Sun and Chan Bak Fahn actually jumped on the Dragon head. Many times he and Mr. Yee would grab the lion thinking, "Aiya this lo fahn or youngster doesn't know! Make sure he gives the orange to so and so!"  As a youngster, I guess the first time this might have been helpful since you can forget what to do. However, often times we rehearsed a lot and thought, "Let me do my lion dance!" I was flashing back through all these memories 15 some years of lion dance, as I watched this funeral lion dance from the back. I was thinking maybe Henry Yee's spirit is right there saying, "Go over there! Bow to my body! Now over here! Now over there!"

It was weird to think if it was for another event of course he would be giving directions, wanted or not, but here we were doing it for him, but he wasn't here. (Well physically anyway, depending on your belief system) The drum the ritual of it really brought me into a deeper mourning and deeper remembrance. I thought of all the performances we did together and other times when we played a solemn beat. Some celebratory, some activist. The Protest Parade against the pogroms in Indonesia against ethnic Chinese, the protest against immigration crackdowns on the commons. But also all the banquets, years and years of them for various new Years events.It was a weird kind of sadness. A good sadness. A sweet solemness like the candy passed out at the door.

BCEC Easter Part 2

Dai Dai had just whispered that he was hungry to me. Now what was I going to do? I wanted to meet Pastor Steven Chin.. I had three peanut butter and nutella sandwiches in my bag, but I was in a packed auditorium with  people that could potentially be allergic to Peanuts. We ended up walking outside to the steps where I put down some extra clothes on the stone steps and fed the kids.

I met up with Noah and Jonah's old swim teacher form the Y who said that he goes to this church whenever he can. Apparently it is full like this every week and that you see a lot of young people coming here. A lot of people may live outside of Chinatown but maybe in their suburb they feel a little isolated because their Church doesn't have a lot of Asians. So they come into Chinatown (Or Newton also has a BCEC satellite) because they feel more comfortable. Also the structure of the Church is different. There is a band playing throughout the whole service, and one of the pastors is very charismatic. Apparently the other, not so much. This Church is packed for the English services and is starting to attract some non Asians as well. Mostly they are the boy friend or girlfriend of a Church member or friend.

The reason why I wanted to do a story about this Church is because I do know a lot of people who have some connection to it. It is "non denominational" which means basically that it is it's own independent Church. In other words if it keeps growing it will be it's own denomination really. I always felt that non denominational was a weird word because it's still Christian. It's not a Jewish or Islamic Church, or a Buddhist Church, or Temple or whatever you want to call it. It just means it's not Catholic or Orthodox or Presbyterian or Lutheran or what have you.

But in Chinatown and Newton it has probably the most members out of all the other Churches. St. James (Catholic) does get pretty full for the Mandarin services with newer Fujianese immigrants. But the English services are small. This Church is actually the opposite. The English services are packed (with Asians) and the Chinese service is a little smaller in that it does not fill an entire auditorium. Still a lot of people though. We sat through some of the Chinese service after we finished lunch and the first thing that I liked was I could see the screen and read the Chinese words (or follow along) so basically I could learn some Chinese while doing the Church thing. But eventually, despite it being a more relaxed format, my kids still got bored so we headed out to the playground right after we chipped in our dollar.

I got to Speak to Pastor Steven Chin and he gave me some reasons why he thought they were so successful. To find out read part 3. I will also try to meet up with Pastor Steven Chin tomorrow for a more in depth discussion about Chinatown. He has been here for 40 years so I'm sure he will have a lot to say about some of the changes.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Henry Yee's Funeral

Obviously everyone who knew Henry Yee had a different experience and he did so much work with so many different organizations.. but to just list things is not what I am going to do. I'm just going to say what I saw and others who want to share their memories are welcome to write in, comment, or if you want to become a contributor let's work together.

I know Henry Yee mostly from his work in the Kung Fu Federation, of which I am semi- separated from...but also spiritually a part of, and so that's how I was going to this funeral, under that banner. Initially I thought I would just go myself, but as it turned out, the Federation was doing a lion dance for the funeral, something I have never even seen, and as one member put it, "I think Mr. Yee would have like that."

We really have to thank Ken Wong and Wong Keurng for pulling the shirts and the funeral lion head together. And like I said, since I had never seen it, this was one instance where I didn't really know what to do. In fact all I did was stand in the back. But being together like that, with black Federation shirts on, it felt strong. It was a strong showing for a group that Yee ji jik started with Chan Bak Fan. I've been thinking a lot about them this week, and how it's a lot more fun to do whatever work, community, activism Federation, if you are doing this with a friend. It makes work kind of social and fun. I didn't get that when I was younger, but as I get older I sort of see that.

Pretty much I wasn't a part of any of the preparation, I just showed up and stood in the back. I recognized Henry Yee's grandchildren that I went to Kwong Kow with. and we slowly followed the lion head in as it mournfully went over and bowed at the altar, and then again at his body and circled around and went out. Then we all went in and paid our respects as a group, bowing with lit incense two by two and then bowing by the body two by two. Jing told Yee Ji jik who was paying respects to him out loud. and then we went to the family.

I don't think that Henry Yee's wife really recognized me. I can't be sure. In fact, in life it wasn't until recently that Henry Yee started to recognize me. I mean if I was at the school it was like oh yeah this guy, but then on the street I was some white guy. But recently as I did more stuff in the community, at the St. Francis House meeting that sort of thing, we would laugh and wag his finger at me like, "I know you.... YOU... you need to continue doing stuff for the community. the next generation.. etc."

But I am used to people not recognizing me out of context.

Jing was crying, Mai Du was crying, and I felt pretty sad even though he was so old.

And as I met other members of the community there was a strong invigorating.. I don't know, suddenly I felt again like the Federation DOES matter, the different organizations community work that Henry Yee started and worked with DO matter. Not like, "Good job, you will be missed" like all the politicians write, but instead, Man I don't care if I don't agree with every little detail of what the CPA stands for or if I should or should not get more involved with the other organizations.. I am totally going to start doing the work he was doing to carry it on, to prove a point.. not out of love.. but out of spite.. like Ha, Henry Yee is even stronger now, there are more little flyers going up, more work being done... Why the anger? Well I'll get into that another time.

Well I have more to write about the Ceremony of the Lion Dance and how it felt and what it meant... next post. Next post.

BCEC Easter part one

On Good Friday I glanced at a couple going into Saint James. They were the parents of former students of mine. hey didn't see me though. The mother was dressed in a nice white dress and I thought that Easter must be a very special holiday for them. (and of course Good Friday) Although i consider myself a type of Christian, I was actually not raised with the Church part of the Easter holiday, to the point where once as a child as I saw others dressed in their "Easter Best" and commented my mother regretted not bringing me to Church at all as I did not even know anything about the festivities of this particular holiday.

This Easter I actually did go to a Church err.. service. But it was really for the blog.

I went to BCEC's service which takes place in the Josiah Quincy School auditorium. The English service started at 9:15 and Grace wondered why I left the house so late with the boys. The truth was I had no intention of sitting through the entire service just to talk to Pastor Steven Chin. I just wanted to get the story. I mean to sit through Catholic Mass at St. James, that was one thing. That was a return to my mother's and Grandparent's religion. I sort of believed I was getting extra points or something. (But I did eventually stop going.)

But why put myself through that for someone else's Church?

Well when we arrived I realized that the full auditorium and the blasting guitar that maybe this one was more festive. Maybe.

I mean St. James has a band play too. And actually sometimes the guitar player is an old Kung Fu student so that's cool because I know him. But this was so loud that well, I didn't have to worry about being quiet with the kids. We listened a while when suddenly Dai Dai whispered, "Rumble Grumble. I'm hungry."

(To find out what happened next, read part two.. but in between that I will probably blog about Henry Yee' sFuneral at Wing Fook, which is tonight. Anyone in BCEC who wants to chip in in the comments or maybe... even become a contributor, just let me know.)

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Boston Marathon

I saw on Twitter fro +Ari Ofsevit that a lot of the Boston Marathon Maps do not have the Tufts Medical Center T stop or the Chinatown T stop on the map. Let me just say that these past few years (you know, aside from the Tsarnaev year, I happened to be in Chinatown that day because I was too lazy to get into that huge crowd of people and opted to hang out at Moh Goon instead) but anyway on a normal Marathon you see a ton of runners coming down to Chinatown to eat afterwards because it is a cheap and good and full meal. And of course they will either use the Tufts Medical stop to go home or teh Chinatown Stop. Maybe they even take the T one stop over because yeah they can run 26 miles but do they want to go that much farther? Plus with the whole family? The point is Chinatown actually gets a lot of business from that event and provides a nice place to eat and hang out afterward. Maybe you can go get a massage, heck a foot massage, after running that far, or standing around watching people finish running that far.. right?

So anyway.. who makes these maps? I mean Chinatown is still on the map... just not the T stops. so what's up with that?

Friday, March 25, 2016

How has the Chinatown Blog affected my Martial Arts

I will tell you, I have gained a lot of inspiration for my Kung Fu from this blog. Mainly from the people I interviewed. I learned about a Master you taught for 10 bucks a month in the 90's even though he was an excellent Karate teacher and had a business and didn't need the money. A lot of people think that if you charge too little you aren't respected. But If you know that you respect yourself and your art and that you are good, you don't have to worry about that.

So I started teaching for $20 a month but you pay for three months. My point is that I was inspired when I heard that a great Master taught for low costs for the love of the art. Some people think this devalues the martial art. But Kung Fu is not like oil. The more Kung Fu you teach, it's not like you run out of Kung Fu, you always have more. Just because you teach a $20 a month class does not mean that you cannot also teach a $1,000.00 an hour class. In fact the people who will appreciate the higher level of Kung Fu are the ones who already know your basics. Because if they only know someone else's basics, their going to be lost.

Also, talking to Sifu Donald Wong, State Rep from Saugus I learned that he teaches a lot of Qi Gong seminars fro free, because it helps people and also they will pay a fee to whatever organization he is helping, whether it is for Veterans or for youth. I thought, "What a great idea. I don't have a lot of money, but I could do something like that." Now I don't go and do exactly the same thing he is doing. Mostly this has manifested itself in my work in Chinatown and in JP. But looking at what he did does give me inspiration.

 I was also surprised how he readily believed in certain aspects of Chi Gung, that at our school, we believed in them but we didn't talk about them not so much because they were secret, but because we thought people would think we were crazy. For instance if someone happened to feel chi through through a healing process we would simply leave it at that for us to know that we had reached that level. We thought that Americans would think that this Chinese way of thinking was backward or superstitious.

But actually maybe it's that China went through a cultural revolution and that's why in our school's culture's mind, we are afraid to talk about that thing. Donald is third generation American. Not only that, his grandfather managed to adapt right into the American way of doing things it seems. So Chinese Culture and American culture are probably more intertwined in his experience. He finds no conflict between a traditional ritual and the modern American philosophy, and neither do his students.

Come to think of it, it is a lot of young Chinese who came through the door with some sort of chip on their shoulder that had this attitude.

Focusing on this esoteric idea of Qi Gong has sometimes made my morning practices more fun. It's not something I had abandoned, but seeing other people do it reinvigorates my focus on that side of the art. Just like watching a documentary about boxing might reinvigorate the martial spirit of my practice.
My life and thought process isn't linear. Like the Eightfold path, I don't work on Speech first and only speech and then move on to action. You sort of work them all at the same time.

I'm not saying I am going around copying all the Sifu's I come in contact with. But I do feel like learning about each Sifu helps me to better understand what kind of Sifu I want to be. So far there are ways in which I am pretty different from my own Sifu and yet there are other ways in which we are very much alike. And you could say that about all the Sifus. There are ways that they are all different individuals with a different outlook on life. But in another way there is a common thread going through all of their philosphies.

I guess a lot of the interviews, in addition to making good posts, are helping me find my niche.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The political animal

One of the reasons I do Kung Fu is to de-stress. You may say, "what are you stressed from?"
I'll say that doing all this political stuff is pretty stressful. A lot of it is cool. But a lot of it... well people can get mad at you. That's why they say you should never talk about politics or religion. There are a lot of gray areas to what you can do to get out the vote. What is appropriate and what is legal.

And once you start talking politics, a lot of people will want to look at the flor and no longer will look you in the eye. It's almost like you have committed a crime.

 I open my mouth about politics and  immediately people say, "Oh no we can't do that." Because all the non profits legally can not endorse a candidate. But you can still legally let people know that an election is going to happen. Now I'm not saying that everyone in Chinatown will automatically vote for Diana Hwang. But chances are, the more people who are in Chinatown that know about the election, the more votes that Diana Hwang will get. Yes the other candidates may get some votes too. But I think the people in Chinatown who want to support say, Livingstone. They already know about the election. The people who do NOT know about the election.. more of them are likely to vote for Diana.. based on human tribal type thinking.

I'm not saying skirt the law... but I am surprised that people more people didn't make plans with me. In fact nobody has. Even those campaigning were like, "yeah just help with the campaign." Do what THEY say. Instead of thinking of OUR way to approach this issue. It's interesting right?

But the thing is we never actually get to that point in the conversation. We just start with no and then it ends there.

Somehow the other neighborhoods get further. Not just with this election.. but with every single one. Like JP, which has very high voter turn out, has all sorts of festivals etc.... that are actually extremely political. Maybe that's why I am doing this now. Because when I lived in Chinatown I never would have done any of this. The most I would have done would have been to vote. That's it.

Basically getting the vote out in a non-partisan manner will automatically Diana Hwang.  even if there is no endorsement of any kind whatsoever.

There is a lot of get out the vote stuff that already happens in Chinatown...but here's the thing. Even when I first started helping Diana's Campaign. I was not sure about the date of the election. That's important. Yeah register to vote and all that, but this election is in two weeks. I handed a few registrations into City Hall today for people.. not much but I did what I could.

Of course even though more registrations won't matter for this election, it is still good to give them the paper to register themselves anyway. I mean the Presidential election is coming up, and though I won;t campaign for any of them.. I think it is important for people to know that Castle Square votes... or Tai Tung Votes.. or Mass Pike votes... because then they have to do stuff for you. They won't ignore you as easily. In general it doesn't matter who you vote for. It matters tat you vote.

It means that not a lot of people know about this April election.. it's at a weird time.  And only the super voters are getting approached.

I feel like I've been pushing towards this.. maybe to the detriment of my health and the loss of friends. Because once you cross that line of "helping the community" into politics. You are seen differently.

To tell the truth all tis has been affecting my Kung Fu. A) I have less time to do it. And B) my mind is not jahp jong jing sun when I am doing it. I am not as emptied of thoughts. I can see how it is easier to simply not get involved in politics whatsoever. But I do think this particular election is important. I just have to see it through to the end.. not only doing calls and door knocking.. but pushing to do my type of door knocking. Getting people who don't usually vote to vote. To bring in new blood.

I said that usually it doesn't matter who you vote for. I think the reason I am campaigning is because this time... there is an exception  to that cynical rule.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Donald Wong, A man on determination. (Part One)

Donald Wong, a third generation American and State Rep for Saugus, teaches Kung Fu and Chi Gung at Ultimate Fitness in Chinatown. I recently saw a Facebook post that he had taken a Disciple, Bill Lewitt, for the Southern Praying Mantis Style (one of the many styles Donald practices). I have seen Donald in Chinatown for years, shaken hands, said “Hi”, that sort of thing, but I didn’t really know him. I thought that this story of a Sifu doing a traditional tea ceremony in a modern Kung Fu gym in Chinatown would be an interesting story for the blog. But this post will actually be more about Donald’s family and what perceive to be his vision for Kung Fu in Chinatown. Not to jump into this story myself, but here I go. From my background, these traditional ceremonies chi gung practices, teet da, and the old school Kung Fu type stuff were things my Sifu did because he was from China, didn’t speak English and wanted to carry on that tradition. Even younger people from Mainland China or Hong Kong, found these old traditions, restrictive and at odds with the modern world and progress. (Taiwan people tend to be simultaneously more traditional and more modern finding nothing clashing there.) So to see these traditions carried out in a Chinese American way is new and inspiring to me. To return to Donald’s family history, his Grandfather came to the states, to Saugus specifically and opened up a restaurant called Mandarin House. His English was not great, but already he jumped right into to the American dream and American Social networks. He was a Chinese Freemason (Hung Mun) but he was also a Freemason... The western organization, and a Shriner as well. Donald’s mother was one of the first women to sell life insurance and won an award for being the top saleswoman. Donald’s parents bought the Mandarin House and changed the name to Kowloon. In fact it is still registered as the Mandarin House, doing business as Kowloon. I see the Kowloon all the time from the highway. I just didn’t realize it had been around for that long. “All the hard work was really my grandfather and my parents. Now we are just keeping it afloat.” Donald said humbly. But there is a lot of work that Donald has been doing through Qigong and Kung Fu that is inspirational to me, as a Kung Fu teacher.

Return to Castle Court

Today I went door to door in my old neighborhood to get out the vote. It felt much different than canvassing in someone else's neighborhood. It was enjoyable and a return. This place had meaning to me. I got to see a lot of people from my childhood and it is true that there were a lot of new people too than did not know who I was. But I am going to get at least one person registered to vote who wasn't going to, and a ton of people did not know about the April 12 election. Of course I was pushing Diana Hwang but I also let people know about Lydia Edwards.. and then I explained while even though she was good, why I thought Diana would be more effective etc. But it felt good, EMPOWERING to let people know about an election who didn't and who were like "Yeah I can do that! I'm registered and yeah I didn't even know about that election. Okay some people didn't want to talk to me. These were the super voters that already got all the literature from all the candidates. But other people were like "Right On! Power to the people!" in Chinese and in English.

One guy totally dissed and ignored me.. and the funny thing is... I grew up with him. Not sure if he recognized me or not. I didn't bother to mention who I was because we had had our ups and downs.

I'm going back tomorrow. I only did two courts. Castle and Emerald. And even though I might get some people who might register too late... well at least they will be registered so they can vote in the Presidential Election right?

For that election. I don't care who they vote for at all. I won't be pushing for anyone. Of course I have who I am voting for. In fact.. that vote won't really matter much. Massachusetts will definitely be Democrat. But it is important that a majority of the projects vote because when you vote you are valued by the people who seek those votes.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Henry Yee passed away this afternoon

I just got an e-mail from Lydia Lowe informing me of this and there is an "in memory" of Henry Yee too. But  a lot of people might not know that I know Henry Yee pretty well. So before I post all that, let me talk about how I know Henry Yee. His voice is very , well was very distinct. And it is a voice that I heard way back when I was in Kwong Kow giving speeches. It was always there, like it or not. But I didn't know him that well back then. I got to know him from the Kung Fu Federation, which Woo Ching White Crane was a part of. Sometimes he needed someone to change a curtain or reach something high or post up flyers so Sifu would send some students to help him with that.. and since I was there so long and was the youngest for so long, I've been a gopher for Henry Yee for a long ass time. Moving a heavy sewing machine, or refrigerators that were broken and being used as shelves, or hanging out with the Pau Paus playing Mah Jong and having a bowl of rice with Ham Yu. (I love Ham yu and somehow those old ladies made it really good even though it's just cooked while the rice is being steamed. In fact, I think I haven't had Ham yu in over a decade. Probably for the best. My Paternal  grandmother who I never met, died of stomach cancer from too much Ham yu, but I digress.

I sort of knew Henry Yee's Grandaughter from KKCS. Also every lion dance back in my teenage years it was Chan Bak Fahn and Yee ji JIk. Chan and Yee. They were a team. I will say that since Chan Bak  Fahn passed, I felt like things went out of balance. They were better together somehow.

Now tat I am doing a lot of the same stuff they were doing, I mean I'm trying to spread out Kung Fu, and organize and get involved with politics too, but I'm doing it my own way, and for my own reasons. Some of it is just to test the waters and come up with good plot devices for my novels. No that's a lie, inside I do really want to make a difference but I know how naive that sounds, so I go with the first thing I said.

But a lot of stuff I criticized Yee for... shoot now I am doing the same thing I realize, but with Facebook and all that. Just the other day when I was talking to Michael Wong, he mentioned that since Henry Yee got sick, nobody posts stuff up any more, it's not the same.

I'm not saying that Henry Yee is my idol or anything like that. In fact, since our relationship was sort of odd of me doing what he told me even though I didn't want to and wasn't getting paid for it, I will admit, that sometimes he annoyed me. But look at this, now I'm that annoying guy going "Vote for Diana Hwang!" isn't that weird?

 Some other more happy memories? I remember we were watching the 108 Heroes, the Water Margin, a series which still inspires me. Henry Yee sat down with us and said he used to know all their names and their specialty. He had memorized them all.

That was sort of the only non "Business" conversation I ever had with him. By the time I really knew him, he was already getting senile. My Si Hing said that when they first knew him his mind wouldn't wander. I interviewed him a bit about his life and his activism. He cared.

For me... I am so cynical that even though I care, I won't invest my entire emotional self into Chinatown. In fact, I think it was that caring so much that sort of made him uncool. Responsible adults tat care sort of can't be cool. It's teenagers who don't give a care that are seen as cool. So as a teenager I looked at the 20 somethings and thought they were cool, but here I had to follow around Henry Yee posting up flyers or moving stuff from his apartment or whatever.

Somehow everyone got old including me, and I'm no longer cool. But I try to be. I'm going to do what he did but the difference is in the end, even if Chinatown is utterly taken away and vanishes I won't cry over it. Part of that, you could say is my whiteness or the fact that I don't live in Tai Tung anymore, or whatever. But I'll fight his fight not because it is the right thing to do or because I care.. but more because I feel like it and let's see what happens.  A subtle difference. Nuance really.
I guess I'm trying to tell myself that I'm not posting up flyers for Henry Yee like I did 15 years ago... I'm just posting stuff for myself.

I haven't really thought much about his passing yet. He was really old. Someone older than me from the neighborhood said, "Wow he was old when I was a little girl."
So it's not like this is sudden. We would all be lucky to live as long as he did.

But maybe I should have interviewed him again. I know he wanted to talk to me more about this blog... especially after he got his organization taken away from him (and then given back to him) and now that I write this I heard some people saying "Oh he used to run a gambling house."

No the Federation had a bunch of old ladies playing Mah Jong and eating rice and reiting some bad ass secret poetry to each other. But that's not a gambling house. I know what a gambling house looks liek (at least my three year old memory of one) because my Dad would bring me in there.)

Was he old. yes. Did all that BS and sneaky stuff with  the paperwork being switched around (and people actually believe and say over and over that they were right in doing that? No. It's cool if that's what you do with me. It's a lawyers game You use the law to your advantage. But don't pretend it's right. You can pretend that the ends are right, or that sometimes you have to play dirty, but don't pretend it's right, or if you're hero is the one who pulled the fast ones, you can justifyu the dirty trick, but you have to admit it's a dirty trick. Don't pretend that Hoy Kew isn't the real Hoy Kew. Someone can steal our domain name (In fact the Domain name to Chinatown Blog was taken that's why this is Boston Chinatown Blog. But that doesn't mean  that the Chinatown Blog, which has gibberish in Japanese is the "Real" Chinatown blog. Hey they did that to make money. no problem. I don't get mad. Their are sharks out there. But if you like sharks don't pretend that when they bite people that their trying to heal you or save your soul. Man I went on this rant for a long time and the point is, yeah that stressed out Henry Yee and even though he was probably dying already anyway, it probably didn't help. And all the other such actions that are done with malicious intent are not helpful either. That's all. Now have I created stress with this blog? Yeah I have. Sorry. Actually know I'm not sorry I just apologize and there was no malicious intent. But Yeah I've caused trouble and stressed people out close to me.

Come to think of it, a few year's back I stressed out Henry Yee too because I wanted to make another Kung Fu Federation event.  Just to show that you can do that without spending too much money and make it more fun...through Facebook etc. He freaked out about it thinking I was breaking off and splitting away or something. But to that point, who cares? There is a ton of Kung Fu Federations  out there right now.  Big deal. But in the end I didn't set up the event because there wasn't much interest, What ended up happening was the New Year's event was moved to August as an August Moon event. I guess that will be the event where it really sinks in that Henry Yee is gone because he would hog the mic. Some will probably say that it is an improvement.. but that doesn't mean on some level that we won't miss him. It's like an older relative that nags you... which I actually never had experienced with my own blood. My own family does not nag me at all, because they died young or I see them so rarely it just wouldn't make sense to be done. So it's kind of like Henry Yee is that nagging older relative of mine.

 I will stop by Wing Fool and offer the white gold and the incense. Again because like I said before, So often I cannot  make it to the funeral's of my own blood But Grace will be home and Wing Fook is down the street. So I make it to the ones I can make it too and hope that others make it to my blood kin who are in a similar situation where my blood was like their family and though Henry Yee was not blood he was like the old grand uncle twice removed or whatever. The world is cyclical. Sai Gai hai yuen. Some Chinese lady told me that when my mom died and I was getting pushed out of the projects (she was trying to help me.)

And now the tribute that someone else wrote. See the attachment as well.

Mr. Henry Yee passed away yesterday afternoon.  

The family will hold a wake at the Wing Fook Funeral Home, 13 Gerard Street, on Monday 3/28, 5:00 – 8:00 pm.  The funeral service will be held on Tuesday 3/29, at 10 am with burial at 11 am.

A Tribute to Henry She-Ang Yee

For 17 years, Henry Yee was truly the driving force of the Chinatown Resident Association. His unrelenting passion and commitment to the community's future made him as familiar with the corridors of City Hall as he was with the apartment buildings and restaurants of Chinatown.  

Following his involvement in the 18-month campaign to stop the thrice-proposed hospital parking garage on Parcel C, Mr. Yee and other activists recognized that Chinatown lacked what many other neighborhoods had—a neighborhood council elected of, by, and for Chinatown residents that would particularly stand up for their interests. He helped to found the Chinatown Resident Association in 1999.

Like the mailman, whether sun or rain, sleet or snow, you could always find Mr. Yee trudging the path to the State House to lobby for the bilingual ballot, to City Hall to register concerns about luxury development, or marching through East Boston and Chelsea on May Day to stand up for all immigrant workers' rights, regardless of ethnicity or immigration status.

       Mr. Yee was a core leader in the campaign to reclaim Parcel 24 for affordable housing, and to draft Chinatown Master Plans 2000 and 2010.  He was an unrelenting advocate for affordable housing focused on the needs of Chinatown's low income families, for a Chinatown library, and for community control of development.  Last year, Mr. Yee played a founding role in launching the Chinatown Community Land Trust for this purpose.

       Following elderly residents' complaints of voting irregularities at the polls, Mr. Yee fought for the Chinese and Vietnamese bilingual ballot, and then for its renewal, for eleven years until the law was permanently renewed in 2014. During this period, Chinatown became one of Boston's consistently higher turnout neighborhoods.

Even those who disagreed with Mr. Yee recognize the tremendous impact he and the Chinatown Resident Association have had on the community. In the face of massive luxury development and powerful market forces, Boston Chinatown's ability to survive and maintain a foothold in the heart of downtown is due to the tremendous commitment and achievements of Chinatown's residents, and most especially Mr. Henry Yee.  

May he rest in peace.

Two Boston Chinatown Historical Sites

I wanted to write this post about two historical sites in Boston's Chinatown so let's get started!

There's a building in Chinatown that is called the Chinese Merchant's Building not too far from the Chinatown Gate at the end of Beach St. This building is also known as the Million Dollar Building because that was the cost of it when it was first built. This building was cut to build part of the Central Artery so it can be said that it cut the artery of Chinatown itself. So what's left of the building is actually just two thirds of it. It has a pagoda on the top of the building too. I have heard that first graders use to dance in the building and my friend who happens to be one of them says that it is a bit odd inside. I wonder if it's because of the fact that it's known to be bad luck it something is cut. For example, people who get a divorce are supposed to cut a pear because the pronunciation of 梨(pear) is similar to the word for divorce. The building was only a few years old when it was cut. But I am glad I know something about this. :)

The other site I wanted to talk about is the Original Josiah Quincy School on 90 Tyler St. It is present day Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association of New England but it houses many community organizations like Woo Ching White Crane School, Boston Chinese Dance Troupe, a chapter of the International Qi Pao Dance Group, Chung Wah Academy of New England, and much much more. But in the good old days, it used to be a public elementary school. It was the first school in America to have separate classrooms for each grade and separate desks for each student. It had four floors but the top floor, which was the auditorium, was blown off by a hurricane. There was also a fire in the building which resulted in a new replacement of stairs.

I hope you guys enjoyed reading about these two sites!

Chung Wah Academy New Year celebration Lion Dance

My Kung Fu class at Josiah Quincy Community Center runs from 1 -1:45 on Saturdays and it turned out that at 2pm My Si Hing's school, Woo Ching White Crane, was performing lion dance there.

"Bring Bao bao and bring the small head!"

Yeah sure why not, just walk over from me class.

Which means of course I brought my children to my class.

As part of the class I teach my students Nam Yi Dong ji Kerng, because I think it is important for confidence building, group dynamics, and when my students go to some event and the music comes on, they will be able to recognize the song and sing along.

Well lo and behold while we were waiting for my Si Hing's team to arrive, and my students were sitting there to check out what was going on, the song came on.

About the Chung Wah audience.. it had that new immigrant feel and energy about it. Kwong Kow always held their graduations in this same Josiah Quincy School auditorium and I couldn't help but comparing the two. This audience was smaller, less rehearsed and the Sound system kept cutting out so you couldn't even hear people speaking on the mic. But you could feel that energy of restaurant workers.. the hard working working class, here gathering together for their cultural school.. that feeling of pushing for the future, to get a foot hold, instead of say, just maintaining what was built generations before. Now it's not that I like one over the other. Obviously I am Second generation on the Chinese side and my white side has been here for quite a while. But there is that feeling of the new immigrant spirit, I don't know something about it.

"Do you want to go to Chines School here Shao?" I asked him. I mean after all, you will learn Chinese faster if you hang out with kids that don't even SPEAK English. If you hang out with other English speakers you won't be FORCED to speak.

In terms of being an audience member, I will say this.

As a kid in Kwong Kow I didn't really understand what people were saying anyway, especially the Taiwanese dignitaries who spoke in Mandarin. I just clapped like I was trained to do. So to me it would not have made a difference that the sound kept cutting out.

But I will say this. There were two women speaking, The young woman translating into English in the blue dress... well I am married with kids and to tell the truth I was to busy chasing them around while I was carrying the head to be looking too closely. Also it is possible that she may be too young for me to be looking as well. So I judiciously focused on my lion dancing job.
 But I will say this, if I were a young boy in the audience, her beauty and her dresses tasteful but exciting cut would have been the absolute highlight of the whole event (including our lion dance) and I never saw anyone one dressed like that on stage at the Kwong Kow graduations that I can remember. In fact she probably would have been pulled off by her ear for her dress being too short. So I would say just by her presence, that this little celebration had a one up on the Kwong Kow graduations. Not that Kwong Kow didn't have beautiful women. But they weren't allowed on stage as MCs in dresses like that.

Our lion dance was me and Shao on the head. One of my old student's who is now a man, played tail. He said he didn't mind doing tail and he didn't feel like trying combos at the last second. Fine with me. After all, this gig was not paying much and I was just a guest not the host. To me it was just an opportunity to get Noah a performance.

After the dance, there was picture taking and my kids were seated on some teachers because they made good props. JOnah held and orange and smiled. He was really good at taking pictures. If anyone finds some in the newspapers or whatever, feel free to send them to me and I'll put them in the post.

After that we were out and me and the kids were picked up by Mommy. So I didn't watch the rest of the performances. I didn't feel like bringing the Go Pro and all that because it was too much with the two kids etc. I also didn't think to really try and get the vote out for Diana Hwang because here was a room full of potential voters and I really think most of them were local, unlike many Chinatown events. Though many also reside in the Mission Park projects which I believe are not part of the district Diana is running for.

I think in the future I may very well enroll my kids in this Chinese school. It seems held to gether by duct tape, but that grass roots just starting out feel has something to it that is lost once you start getting money.

The BCNC I went to is not the BCNC my kids went to.

A lot of people like to compare recent immigrant groups to older ones. Like talking of Linda Dorcena Forry running the St. Patrick's day breakfast, they will say the Haitians of today are the Irish of the past.

I would say that the Chinese Immigrants of today... are the Chinese Immigrants fo the past, because the are very much separate communities in a lot of ways. Perhaps another post later about what I mean in detail.

A question about the MBTA to the candidates for senate

You know watching this, the first thing I think of is that Trump has certainly made politics more entertaining, and looking at how forums and debates used to be.. man am I bored.

Some people say it is ridiculous (Trump) and I thought so too, at first, but really it is using non political language, business language, to explain politics. Political scripts (I know about them because I did some calls with them) they all have the same language. I mean basically, all these candidates will answer the question the same way.

I will say one way Diana stands out here is that she started the petition to keep late night service. Now you can say, "Oh this is just posturing or whatever." But look, she isn't even elected yet and she has already DONE something, not just talked about it, to get the MBTA late night service back. You could say, well anyone could have started that petition (Okay but they didn't) and that she is just starting it to get votes and support. Yeah , that's the point though isn't it. They get their power from us. But once we give them that power what will they DO with it. To tell the truth, it is that petition that got me involved in the campaign. I signed that thing and I signed up to volunteer because I saw that there were things that we were aligned on ideologically.

It was a smart move and something other than just giving speeches about it.

I mean I was playing this small segment in the background of mostly men rambling on and on (the same types saying the same things) and Grace was like, "Uhh can you turn that off? It's really annoying."

But the petition is relevant and actually says something.

This whole forum is a show. A show that needs to be put on... but honestly If I had run it? I would have kicked the thing off with Lion Dance and lui Gu. And I wouldn't have had a table. I would have made the candidates do weird stuff and challenges to test them under stress. Like answer my questions while I throw stuff at you. You can say that is just for the entertainment factor, but that's how you see  person's real character. The Greeks made people debate while standing on one foot.

And I will tell you something else about Diana, she past one of my weird tests. She said she grew up working class but anyone can say that, and some of my friends that grew up in the ghetto were still coddled by their parents because they were boys.

But I know she really did grow up working class and I will tell you how.

I had lunch with her and at the end I left a part of a roll up sandwich on my plate. (One of those Taiwanese Scallion pancake roll ups)

She wasn't hungry, in fact she said I could have the rest of the roll up, but the second I put it down she was like, but she was like, "Uhh, you're not going to leave that right? You should take that with you."

There was no question or mic or panel. So that is real Diana in real life.

I don't care what party you are from Republican or Democrat or where you have made in life. But there are people who waste food, and there are people who do not want to waste food because they value it. And then there are people who waste food by a) tossing it or b) overeating

If you will waste food at lunch, don't you think you may waste money as a person in power?

Then there are those that are greedy and over eat.

And isn't this something that directly relates to OUR MBTA problems?

Diana is someone who will not waste food, but at the same time not take more than her fill. She will allocate funds to those who need it appropriately.

And now I sound like a politician. But in simple language it is as basic as making sure the sandwich isn't just left on the plate to be thrown out.

Actions speak louder than words spoken on a stage when questions are asked.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

An old student that I want to be like when I grow up

It's weird when kids that you taught Kung Fu become men.. and also are doing stuff that you want to do. When I met (I guess he goes by D.J. now but when I knew him he was Zi Cong) he actually didn't speak English. But now he is vlogging up a storm.. something which I am just starting to wet my feet at, but am obviously not as fluent in.

 A Sifu must never forget that everyone you teach, can also potentially teach you something, or perhaps teach either now or in the future.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Leland Cheung for States Senate, Second Middlesex District...election in September

 Leland Cheung is running for a different seat than Diana... which is GREAT! That means there is no conflict and I can maybe help him with his campaign too. I'll tell you one thing. Before I started doing this I didn't know anything about what districts were what... and frankly I still don't know much. Should I do more research? Yeah. But I wouldn't even be doing that research if I wasn't involved. I've learned A LOT from doing this blog because there is a difference between reading about something online or in school or talking about it.. and actually going out and DOING something. It's not so much that the DOING makes much difference externally. It's that you learn differently.

Let's use Kung Fu as an example. If you talk about Kung Fu that's one thing. Then you do the motions, that's another thing. Then you perform on stage, that's another thing. Then you fight in a tournament or  the street... that's another thing. The techniques will be wired differently in your brain. The truth is you need a combination of all of it.

My first little project on this blog was the Street Sweeping thing. Because I had gone to an AACA meeting about cleaning up Chinatown. Did my street sweeping exercise affect the neighborhood? I would say that it did.. spiritually. But literally I did get Heroin needles out of the playground and that was something. Can they end up back their? Sure. But through sweeping I reconnected with old mentors, organizations, police, and community leaders. Through writing about it and posting it online I got back Facebook comments that taught me about 311 and by using 311 I learned more about the City where I grew up and live.

You see my point? Doing stuff is important for learning.

So Now I'm learning by helping with Diana Hwang's campaign... which will help me because I'm totally going to be involved in Leland Cheung's campaign too. I learned that door knocking and cold calling, can actually be fun, when it's just a little bit.

Will I be involved in EVERY campaign with an Asian? No I doubt it. But I've wanted to hook up with Leland for a while. Now I have an excuse.  

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Boston Public Schools Walk Out in the eyes of Jennie C.

I met someone who was a part of the Boston Public Schools Walk Out so I asked her a few questions to see if I could write up something about the event. She attends Boston Latin Academy, BLA; her name is Jennie Chang. I asked her if she knew middle school aged students that attended the event and she said that she overheard a bunch of them talking about the event on a public bus upon leaving. Jennie said that she went "because I care about my education and future." She went with many classmates from BLA but she knows that many other schools went too, such as BCLA, Brighton High, O'Bryant, and the Quincy Upper School. When I asked her how she liked the event, she answered, "Overall, I liked it but at the end, it got kind of chaotic and it got out of hand." The event itself was a rally and they had speakers too. But I am sure that she is proud of the hundreds, if not thousands of students that showed up to the rally and last but not least, she heard on the radio that they're not doing some of the budget cuts! I'm happy that was the result :3.

Imagine Boston

Got this e-mail and was asked to distribute. Can't go to this thing though because I have my Kung Fu Class at First Baptist Church on Tuedays.

"I'm Jake Hasson, Street Team Coordinator for Imagine Boston 2030. It's our job to be out in the neighborhoods every day talking to Bostonians, getting people to engage in the citywide planning process. We've been out in the neighborhoods for three weeks and we've had more than 3500 conversations with Boston residents about the future of their city.

I wanted to keep you abreast of what we've got going on in the community. There's two major ways you can contribute at this stage of the plan:

1. Give us your opinion about where there are opportunities to enhance and grow Boston through CoUrbanize: We'll be collecting information from now until March 30th about where people see opportunity in the neighborhoods.

2. Attend a community workshop at one of the 5 remaining locations we have. This is two hours of in-depth engagement with City of Boston planners and officials from every department. It's much more interactive than a community meeting. You can register for the BC forum at this link: - and we expect to be completely booked. There's no need to RSVP for the other events; please bring as many friends as you can!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Picking your candidate based on Ethnicity.

I actually brought this point up when I met Diana. I said, "You know just because your Asian doesn't mean you necessarily represent Chinatown."

And she said that of course that was true. You can't just pick your candidate based on ethnicity. But that she fights for Chinatown issues, like working class issues and that a lot of women's rights issues are family issues. And because she is Asian and her parents were immigrants, she understands soem fo the feelings that go along with that, in a closer way than your other candidate who just says he'll represent you and fight for you but doesn't really know it.

But okay, would I be making PHONECALLS for Diana Hwang if she weren't Asian? I might have made phone calls for Dan Conley if my kids weren't so young. In fact now that I have made some phone calls I realize doing a LITTLE bit of that sort of thing is kind of fun.

But when people get pissed at you for calling, "Stop calling here I'm going to call the police." That becomes kind of a downer.

So, let me tell you a little secret about how these calls happen. It happens through a site called Hub dial. It is some sort of Robo call type thing. One guy complained that he was getting calls all day and that they hang up right when he picks up the phone. Because I am not the only one calling. All of the other candidates people are calling too and there's a lot of them Boncore, Rizzo, Livingstone, Edwards, Morabito, Rogers, and of course Diana Hwang. That's a lot of candidates. But I talked to him and he was happy to chat with a human and he said he'd consider Diana.

My point is, I'm not dialing your number. But before I played this game, I didn't realize that either.

The best connections I got with people were when I went of script. Yeah there's a phone script. Because to me, the script is too impersonal, cheesy, political, without being specific enough. The people that actually want to talk know about politics already so they ask you some specific questions that isn't in the script.

Here's some interesting ones I wasn't expecting.

"How old is she?"

"Is she married? Does she have children?"

I didn't even ask Diana these questions because I thought.. I don't know that they would be sort of creepy or chauvinistic coming from a man. But it was actually women who asked these questions. I guess it made sense in terms of the child thing. Like John Connolly had his kids in the public school system. And Now Walsh, some would say, is selling out the school system.At least that's the opinion on the playground among the mothers.

For the age thing I just say, "Look she was aide to Debbie Blumer. She has experience up there on Beacon Hill."

Anyway, this one lady asked me why I'm involved on the campaign. And I told her the truth.. which is that it has to do with Chinatown issues.

She said, "Not to insult you." but she basically schooled me about how she wasn't going to pick a candidate based on ethnicity but rather thinking of the community as a whole. "I'm Italian but I'm definitely not voting for Rizzo because of the things he did or didn't do in the community and what he could have prevented."

Again, I guess I did go with Diana partly based on the ethnic thing, because I didn't even bother to find out more about the other candidates.

But I never gave two hoots about Suzanne Lee. Still not even sure what she ran for. Had I showed up to vote... yeah I probably would have ticked her name off because of the name. Was hers a November Election? Maybe I did vote for her, but there was nothing memorable about the experience.

I voted for Michelle Wu. But she was also the only candidate I even saw. There was another guy shaking hands at Stony Brook. But he looked so pissed off. I went with Wu. And when she was an incumbent, yeah I had seen her all the time and she didn't seem to be doing badly so why not vote for her? I voted for Ayanna Presley too because Grace said she's smart, and other names I recognized. But after that I voted for myself multiple times to punish bad campaigning. I met Annissa coming out of the polls and wish I had voted for her too but hey she won anyway.

I knew I had wanted to interview Diana for the blog. And then I saw her at a Family association, I was introduced to her by Nina Liang.. so there  are a lot of associations and connections there. That would probably be enough for me to vote for her if I were in the district. But the campaigning is because I saw her make the petition for late night T service. Now, that could just be a thing to grab onto with symbolism just for the campaign, like Trump's Wall. But I'm all about symbolism. I mean, I swept the street today... and apparently it was after Walsh had guys clean that street too. I thought it was a little easier today than normal.

So am I wrong to pick by ethnicity? Yeah if it's ONLY ethnicity. But here's the thing. Asians don't get a whole lot of chances to pick an Asian candidate. I mean I'm Irish too, and Polish and German. Maybe I like Kasich's old school Polish ways. I can see that it is why he has a strong stance in terms of foreign policy in that region.

And for the last Mayoral election. I knew Dan Conley personally and that's why I went for him. People accused me of being an old school Boston politics type guy. And of course if everyone voted based on ethnicity, than no Asian has a chance in this state... but some people like the woman I talk to look at it more objectively.

But here is my thing. Asian's can't afford to play that game if you ask me. I mean if the candidate just stinks, then yeah don't vote for that guy just because he or she is Asian. But if they are qualified... I'd say give them a chance first and then see what happens. I pretty much use that judgement with all candidates of color, because I think it does matter. Of course I did not vote for Barros, for Mayor even though a lot of Chinatown was pushing for him. I liked him, but I felt I had to be loyal to Conley.

I've been trying to go around Chinatown and see if there is any grassroots or organizational thing in place specifically for Diana and all I get is, "Oh well let's try to be objective, let's see at the forum."

And even though the lady I talked to had a lot of good points... in a small small minority community like Chinatown, that is a mistake. Also I guess I am also pushing for Diana because she is young. So maybe it is an age thing. And this woman I talked to seemed to think that she wanted a "more mature" older person in this seat.

Is it because I am young? Maybe. I want new blood up there. And I know that Diana, being charismatic and personable and young... this could be a stepping stone for her. She's not just going to get up in this position and sit there. She has the support and tools from other Senators and people on Beacon Hill to be a Success. Which means she can move up higher.. go all the way even one day. Feel me? And at the same time she is pushing the working class struggle type of campaign. Original? no. But still.

So in that sense if you are an Asian Activist or Community organizer or whatever.. Diana is  your dream candidate. I mean for a lot of these elections I end up voting for myself. But that's what voting for Diana is like. It's like a vote for yourself. I mean even as a white guy in Chinatown or just in Boston, yeah I want a T system that works and bike lanes and all that.

MOST of the people I called, it was a predictable vote right down ethnic lines. And door knocking, I got a similar feel. In fact one guy joked to me, "Is he Irish? I'll vote for him if he's Irish. cause I'm Irish." Grace said I should have broken into some Irish folk song, preferably in Gaelic, and then been like, "Now will you vote for Diana Hwang?" Missed my opportunity.

I mean I get that a lot of Chinatown organizations can't officially endorse someone. But Newspapers can right? I mean the Times Endorse Hillary right? I thought this campaign (my part of it) was just going to be bout letting people know that the election is on April 12 and letting them know that Diana exists. And then, for the non Asians in the projects where I'm from, then pushing the whole T and working class thing.

I thought if I approached an organization and they couldn't endorse Diana that they would be like, "Oh yeah but on the down lo here's the plan that is already in place and all you need to do is..."

But no. No plan. Or the plan was. "Here's a forum so you can decide for yourself in an objective manner."

Yo! Now is not the time for this! The election is in a month. Diana needs a base. In fact talking to my friend and mentor at the Community Center, he pondered where Diana's strength base would come from and then said, "Oh yeah I guess it would come from Chinatown." Like it's a given. Because well, that's what I thought too. I guess it's still true but nobody will just come out and say it.

The Chinatown guy I know who thought like I did was Michael Wong.

"Yeah Wong's family has a fundraiser tomorrow. How can you say you support and you don't even know the DATE!" and he hit me with the invitation card on the head.

Me and Michael usually don't agree on life perspective type stuff. But when I told him about soem lackluster response he said, tell them to F off.

"Woah I'm not going to yell at them." because I respect other people's opinions on why they vote for whoever. The important thing is that they vote.

"You yell at them and then tell them that I yell at them! I saw some Chinese guys, holding the sign for Livingstone like that and I yelled at them, 'Are you Chinese! C'mon. Blacks will support their own. They won't go and vote for the white man you know?"

Okay so maybe I'm not that far along. I mean after all I'm also half white. So any white guy also is my ethnicity. And then I like to give other candidates of color a shot too. But you know what.. even though Michael seems kind of crazy... right on!

I mean with all the stuff happening in Chinatown right now, do you really wanna be the guy that voted AGAINST Diana Hwang?

I did one useful thing on my little phone calling list. I was able to talk to a Chinese guy.

I didn't know how to pronounce Diana's Chinese name though so it's Wang Ji yi. (I think)

But thanks to talking to the teachers at my Re-school Kung Fu class I knew how to say "Suun Gui" Election. I bumbled around and admitted to being not that good at Chinese in the political vocaublary. I talked about the fact that she's been doing this type of work for a long time.

"Cui hai mmm hai tong yun ah?"


"Cui hai mm hai Mun ju dong ah?"

I had momentarily forgotten what munn ji dong was. More bumbling because Dong reminds me of long conversations with Sifu about another party but my head got back on right I remembered and I realized he was asking if she was a democrat.

Hai! Hai Mun ju dong!

"Ho! Ngau wui shuun"

April 12. 4 yuet 12 ho.

"Ngau wui shuun cui!"

What is this feeling?

Oh yeah. Empowerment.

and it's something Chinatown, Asians, and the working man needs.

Yeah women too, if that is what will get you to vote for Diana.

My first ever visit to Chinatown was in 1988.  I started working in Boston, and had quickly made friends with the Chinese people in my office,  They asked me to go to lunch with them a few times, but I had always told them that I didn't like Chinese food,  It was true at the time, but little did I know that the MSG loaded food that you got at the local "Jade" place in your town wasn't eaten by most Chinese people... Or so I was told. They laughed at me when I mentioned "chicken fingers" and "egg foo yong",  "That is LOE FAHN CHUN" my friend said to me, "that is NOT real Chinese food".
Back during this time, the combat zone was in full swing, and it wasn't uncommon to see a streetwalker roaming around before noon time,  Some of them were transvestites that could walk better in high heels than I could, I learned to steer clear of the "hum sup" areas, and started to appreciate the things Chinatown had to offer.
My first adventure was going to Wai Wai on Oxford Street in Boston.  This family knew how to throw together a damned fine plate of chicken with rice, and some fantastic ginger scallion sauce that I became hooked on.  The prices have gone up since 1988, but you can still find me there or at their second location on Harrison Ave.  Thems good eatin! My second trip was to the "dai pai dong" that no longer exists in Chinatown,  It was a food court on the upper floor, and that place was like a carnival most days, I miss that place a lot.  Little did I know, it was a sign of things to come.
Chinatown was on the radar of some real estate developers with a serious plan.  The dai pai dong was turned into luxury condos.  The peep shows have been closed down and replaced with luxury apartments or better end restaurants. The theaters have been restored to their grandeur, and the shows are selling out.  This is all great, but with that comes the downfall of the "mom & pop" places and people that can no longer afford the rent, I am nervous for the future of Chinatown, and the loss of a culture that I've come to accept and appreciate, I know enough Chinese to get me into trouble, but in 10 years where there be any Chinatown left?

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Diana Hwang and the April 12 Special Election: Part one

I met up with Diana Hwang today at dumpling cafe and the first impression you get when you meet her is how REAL she is.
We actually had a pretty candid conversation about why she is running, Chinatown, and where she's coming from.

First off, I new she was not from here. She actually grew up in Texas. In the old tribal Boston this would be a problem in politics. But Michelle Wu is from Chicago. And tell the truth, Boston is changing, and our leaders need to reflect that.

 Diana may not have been born in Boston, but she is an insider on Beacon Hill. She worked as an aide to Debby Blumer who to be honest, I had never heard of because I don't pay much attention to local politics. But Debby Blumer was one of the original authors of the Affordable Care Act. Sadly she passed away while Diana was working for her, so Diana actually ran her office for 6 months.

Oddly, even though Debby Blumer had passed away, her name couldn't be taken off the ballot or something weird like that and she still came in third in the next election. Pam Richardson, won the election on a write-in.

The point is, Diana has been up there on Beacon Hill. If elected, she knows the lay of the land.

But in terms of getting the job in the first place, she needs our help. This is a competitive race. There are a lot of candidates running for this open seat. Diana has a lot going for her. Endorsements from Sonia Chang-Diaz and  Linda Dorcena Forry, two people she will be working with.. but also from Paul Travaglini, brother of former State Senate President Robert Travaglini. But if you really want her to win you have to do more than just vote. You may have ties to Chinatown but you don't necessarily reside in this district. I don't. That means you have to help get the word out.

Not only to vote for her... but WHEN to vote.

Now.. I'm from here, I speak and read English and I even keep my ear out for stuff to write about for the blog., but that doesn't mean I know that much about local government. In fact, I didn't even know about this election on April 12th

And this election is pretty important for Chinatown and the surrounding area. I mean how many elections are held in April? There might might not be that high a turnout so every vote will really count.
Everyone is talking about the Presidential election. I'm not saying your vote doesn't matter for that. It does, in a way. But Massachusetts will most likely go to the Democratic Candidate whoever it is.

But in this LOCAL election your vote will really count. And local politics are going to effect your day to day life.

Will everyone in Chinatown vote for Diana just because she is Asian? Of course not.

But the fact that she is Asian, that's what has me interested as a blogger, and the more I learn about the district being represented (my old stomping grounds...) the more intrigued I become.

The more I found out about Diana, the more I see a candidate I want to push for personally.

Now newspapers and Chinatown organizations have to be fair. It would be good if this blog was fair and had contributors supporting other candidates as well. But this series of posts on Diana will be my endorsement. But not only that. I'm working on her campaign and I hope you will help get the vote out too. And as it turns out the other contributors to the blog are also working on her campaign as well.

 You'll see why I think this is such and important election and why Diana is such an important candidate post by post. My reasoning is not necessarily what you might think. I'm sure the other contributors have their own personal reasons and it would be great to hear their perspective as well.

The most obvious thing? Yes she is an Asian woman. A YOUNG Asian woman, that is qualified and can get stuff done. So if she wins... she will be successful up there.

Well more to come on that. I wrote up a more detailed post for the Sampan. Maybe they'll print it, but maybe they already have an interview with her.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

The Asian Vote: Smoke and mirrors

I have seen a lot of politicians come to the family associations and even the Kung Fu Federation banquet year after year for about 15 years. It was nice to see them I guess. But I wondered from the very beginning, "Are they here for the votes or for campaign contributions?" Now for a Governor, it makes sense for him to show up, because indeed this room full of Asians all live Massachusetts. A lot of them are wealthy as well so they very well may contribute to their campaign. For Mayoral and City Councilor candidates.. well I guess a good number of people in the room VOTE in Boston even though they live in Brookline, Newton, Canton...the Chinese picked up that trick from the Irish.... from Billy Bulger specifically from what I've heard.

And in terms of community leaders, the elder statesman of Chinatown do still control a lot of votes of the elderly through what Lydia Lowe would call, "strong arming". I will tell yu, I don't knowck strong arming, because I think I am about to attempt something pretty similar. Not strong arming exactly but I am going to be very pushy for this Special Election on April 12 to fill Anthony Petrucelli's seat.

The Candidate I am pushing for is Diana Hwang. Now do I automatically support every Asian over the other candidate? No. Tommy Chang sucks real bad. Though we didn't get to vote for him anyway. And he sucks in a typically Asian way, in that the guy can't communicate what needs to be said in written English. My example is a letter sent home to all parents which was just confusing, alarming, and one could argue, unnecessary. (Do I have the same problem? some would argue yes. But I'm not getting paid for my job.)

But why I am pushing real hard for Diana? I will tell you, I would not even KNOW about this special election if I hadn't been introduced to Diana by Nina Liang at the Liang's family association, so yes those banquets aren't necessarily a waste of time.

And at first I didn't think I would be out there door knocking for anyone. Th only other candidate I ever considered door knocking for was Dan Conley.. because he had helped me personally and I still owe him. But at that tie, Jonah was too small. How was that going to work?

But the quick pitch for Diana is this, she's trying to get the late night T going again, which is good for the working class. She is an insider at the State House because she was an aide. Which means she knows how it all works and knows who to go too... at the State house. But here's why she needs our help. She's not from here. She doesn't necessarily know the lay of the land in terms of votes.. and from my door knocking, I can tell you that Bay Village pretty much belongs to Livingstone, because he has been there 3 times already. Now a lot of them are still undecided so Diana can still go down there and win votes. But Bay Village is also wealthier.

But I know of a whole project complex that is full of working class people of color who use the T who care about the issues that Diana is pushing for but who usually don't vote. They probably don't even know about this upcoming election. I didn't. These projects are called Castle Square and are full of Asians who can vote, but don't necessarily. Would they vote for Diana? Hell yeah. But they don't even know about the election. What about the other people of color? Yeah they'd vote for Diana but she had to go there and court them. Because who are the other guys? Will they care about them?

Now the truth is the cynic may say, how can you be sure Diana will even care... you can never be  sure. But if we empower ourselves and vote and help her win when she would have lost, that will mean something... to her and to the position. In fact even if she loses the person who wins will look at the fact that we voted in an organized way, which will mean they will need to pay attention to us.

And the truth is, that housing project is turning into market rent real fast. I didn't "Move on up" out of there. I was pushed out with my mother dying of cancer. But I would love to return there to door knock and organize and look at the garden that my mother helped get built by organizing in the CSTO. That housing project is full of votes that haven't even been courted properly in any election because people go to the Chinatown banquets and think, this is for the Chinese vote. No it's not.

But I need help. All my friends that used to play cops and robbers with me in the projects on roller blades, or tag football or what have you. How many people that read this have connections to those projects? We can organize something here that matters for an election that is only 1 month away. But it honestly might mean going door to door in addition to setting something up with management.

And oh yeah, I forgot about why I am even putting this on the Chinatown Blog. Diana Hwang's WINNING matters a lot fro Chinatown, just like Michelle Wu and Nina Liang matter a lot for Chinatown, but not in the way you might think. You may think.. Nina Liang is Quincy why does that matter for Chinatown? Because she won and she had shown that a young woman can win. A young Chinese woman can win. That affects how the Chinatown Organization, how the Chinese Family itself will think. Some of the ways we are doing stuff in Chinatown, is just not as effective as we can be. We need younger blood who can blog and twitter and I'm not talking about me. I'm old in my ways. I'm just learning this blogging thing. There are people who have kick ass blogs in London, who have roots in the very projects I'm talking about, and we can tap into that energy and brain power through social media. We can be connected even though we are far apart and get things done. But we're not. But if I just talk about that people will look at me funny and think I am crazy. But, when you see a young Asian woman in a position of power, that is a symbol of the future and Chinatown's possibilities. About Chinatown Politics' possibilities... internally.