Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Veggies for 1 dollar at Jia Ho

Score

Kwong Kow summer camp

Looking for a chinese school type of summer camp right in Chinatown?

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Juice Bar

(Photo Credit Adriana Li)

Before Bubble tea or Boba tea was all the rage, there was the ancestor of this Juice bar that was located in Dai Pai Dong, a term used for a out door food court type restaurants often referred to as DPD by American Born Chinese. DPD left and then there was this Juice Bar and also Royal Palace. Royal Palace is now Su Su's and I guess The Juice Bar is now going too. A shame for the customer since the cold deserts are especially great in the summer. 


Of course there are other juice bars. and Kung Fu teas and all other sorts of powdered drinks but this place and the owners have been around a while and the drinks were made fresh.

Wonder what will open here. 


Monday, June 19, 2017

Mixed

I have been seeing more about mixed couples... And I think an entire. Blog could be about just this subject alone. Also being mixed I think  it would be easy to just speak from experience.

Whatever, like, it's something t o talk about.

Interestingly I happen to write on another news site, Cabo Verde network, and although it's not like race or color has no issue at all with the vape verdeans, let's just say it is a fairly mixed group of people.

So are Hispanics. And another term I learned was "red bone."

Red bone was mentioned on Aziz Ansari's "Master of none" as something that black people called light skinned black people.

Oh right...black people are Also very mixed. White people are too they just tend to hide it until recently for obvious reasons.

But anyway, red bone are actually their own group that were all mixed. Black, white, and the tribes if people originally from here. They kept to themselves.... And sometimes were just considered white because it was just easier.

You see racism as a system is actually hard to continue to maintain. It takes a lot if work.

Asians...a pretty broad term including all sorts of people, were sometimes categorized as white as well. And actually Caucasians, people from the caucusus...were not really white. Read " A hero if our time."   

Most of what I have been seeing has to do with mixed couples Chinese  and white, and the politics involved in that. Politics that aren't necessarily part of the individual relationship.

I would just like to point out that people have been mixing for white a long time. In fact a good deal of Europeans probably have some Mongolian blood.

Not only that, but there are Neanderthal genes in there and Asians have a good amount of homo erectus DNA.

My point is...yes there are issues and stereotypes that need to be addressed. But sometimes addressing then is already messed up and kind of looking askance at mixed people as if they are impure...when the truth is only some African are even fully cromagnon and maybe some aborigines.

I just feel like any discussion has to start with that.  That most people claiming not to be mixed are mixed. They just don't know it.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Housing standards

New housing being built. I guess I never gave it much thought. But I wonder what type of wood this is and what the standards are for safety reasons. I mean what with all the news about that building in London.

Kung fu on rocks

Noah and Jonah kfing on rocks.

Chess and boba

Chilling at the park, breathing in smoke, sipping on the boba.

Laid back.

My mind on nothing in particular

Chess and Boba

Btw it's pretty simply at the park.

Little lions

Angry birds happy dai

Father's Day dim sum at Bubor Cha Cha

"I thought we were going to dim sum?" Noah complained. Since he is my son, > knew exactly what the misconception was.

" This one has the tickets. Not the carts. But it's still dim sum. In fact I would argue that in some ways it's better."

"How come they don't have dim sum at night?"

"Because it's like breakfast.... or brunch."

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

A Temple for Our Community


Master Zhou Xuan Yun has been teaching martial arts in Chinatown for years.
Now he is  ready to build temple for our community. I got a chance to interview him about it.


Me:  Why is it important that a Taoist Temple be built in Boston?

Zhou: Understanding Taoism is an important part of understanding Chinese culture.  Taoism is the only religion native to China. Taoists, believe in the Tao, the organic order that underlies all of creation.  Taoists study and strive to act in harmony with this cosmic force.

In China, each community has its temple.  The community provides the support that the temple needs, and the temple provides services like rituals for weddings, funerals, and also provides spiritual guidance when needed.  

I have chosen to build a temple outside of Boston.  In a more rural location, we can get a property with a bit of land.  I will offer classes and workshops, as well as meditation retreats.  I will also host masters visiting from China.  I hope that members of the Chinatown community can visit and connect to Chinese culture on a deeper level.  

Me: Is Taoism compatible with other religions? What if I am Catholic or Muslim or some other religion.... can I be Taoist too?

Zhou:It is important to differentiate between the Taoist beliefs and Taoist practices.  Many traditional Chinese practices are rooted in Taoism, like tai chi, qigong, breathing practices, feng shui, reading the Yi Jing, meditation, acupuncture and herbalism.  These things do not require any particular set of religious beliefs.  They can be practiced by anyone.

In the temple we also learned ritual, chanting scripture, and devotional practices.  These things require belief in Taoist religion, and are not compatible with other religious practice.

Me: I could see a lot of Americans who are disillusioned by their native religion because of scandal or abuse seeking Taoism. Are there religions that are completely scandal free? How would this new temple fit in?

Zhou: It is not proper for me to speak negatively about other teachers.  I can say that I teach students of any religion, race, sexual preference, gender identity, and disability.  Our differences are to be celebrated, not feared. Without fear, the mind is calm, the spirit is focused, and real practice can begin. Come as you are. You are welcome here.

Me: We talked about other religions. What about people who don't have interest in traditional religions. Especially organized ones. How  would they benefit from a Taoist center?

Zhou: Our modern lifestyle is very unbalanced.  People work too hard, are too stressed, and get sick as a result.  Many traditional Taoist practices are wellness arts that create mental and physical well being.  


Me: You’re married with a child....from watching kung fu movies sometimes you get the impression that some Taoist are celibate. Also shaolin monks….what's the story?

Zhou: There are several different Daoist lineages, each with their own unique practices.  Some withdraw from society to live in monasteries or as hermits. Others marry and live in villages or cities.  Each of us must find and follow the path that is right for us.  In fact, there are more similarities than differences among the different Taoist lineages, and we all embrace the three jewels of the Tao: compassion, moderation,and humility.


Xuan Yun is raising money for this center now. Click on this link to help this become a reality.

Meisum Bakery

Bout to get my Banh Mi on at Meisum.

Fresh fruit

Will we have more or less of this in Chinatown's future? Was there more or less open air fruit stands in the past?

The 40 million dollar question

What will happen with this property. Let's take another picture in a year and see if the landscape has changed in this section of Chinatown.

Welcome to Chinatown

I passed by the On Leong building and
Was see by the brand spanking new look of it. In the same moment I passed by the late Henry Yee's wife. I waved to her and she looked at me but as always did not register me as someone she knew. It dawned on me that I don't know her name. In fact I only know her husband's name because I saw it in print.

There are a ton of Chinatown norms that I wouldn't even think of before starting this blog, as strange. I would argue that participating in Dragon Boat has even changed my view on what is a "norm" for an Asian American is.

Progress

By Tai Tung Park. Aka dinosaur park

Mural

Guess where?

Back of Tai Tung

Coming soon.

Now leasing

Looking from Josiah Quincy elementary toward tyhe South End, or call it does, or call it Chinatown cause that's what it is, one can see a few buildings with signs that say "Now leasing." Old signs. Sun faded signs and ones not so sun faded. New buildings, old buildings like Teradyne, and still new buildings going up.
Leasing to who?
That's not a whiny question smacking of holier than thou activist preacher syndrome. I'm genuinely askingb because like I said, the signs are old and the buildings are still going up. Is it that no companies want to move in but many residential type that have the dough do?


Night With LuDow

This past weekend in addition to the Dragon Boat Festival, Boston Chinatown Blog also attended the spectacular sold-out concert at the Middle East which included LuDow whom BCB had interviewed in an earlier entry as well as the pregame and after party. 

The pregame was filled with a chilled atmosphere that at the same time pumped everyone up for the energetic concert. In their performance, LuDow along with Aaron King delivered sharp flows and brilliant wordplay with their lyrics some of which included personal, intelligent and conscious content. Also worth mentioning is the dynamic beats used in the songs. All in all it was an inspiring and uplifting set. 

Of course, the energy continued on in the after party. There were several group games, friendly conversations, drinks, savory clams, music, and cyphers. 

It was a great experience to see and interact with both the personal and artist sides of LuDow. The night was full of positive vibes. Check out his amazing work here





(Photo Credit Anna Rae)

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Addiction to Dragon Boat

(Team CYPN pictured above. Photo Credit Maggie Li via Facebook)


I caught the Dragon Boat bug, but I am not the only one. Many people on the boat were sort of just doing it because, but even after that first practice, even though we weren't quite together and had no aspirations of being very competitive, that feeling of the motion of the boat, of people being even somewhat in time, is an incredible thing. It reminded me of my crew days when I would even feel that motion when falling asleep. (Even though I wasn't that good we did practice every day. Also... crew was something I was sort of forced to do... and I wasn't yet ready to accept it the way I was ready to accept Dragon Boat.)

Fast forward to the preliminaries and race day.


                                           

When I was tired from those races I thought back to a chapel talk at Groton from someone who was good at crew and gave a chapel talk about going to some camp where all they did was row. I was an underclassman and the Adrian Martin, the person giving the talk was a senior I think. His talk was like any other I suppose. But I really didn't understand his enthusiasm... until we did the preliminary races and of course... the races themselves. 

Irene Chu, our coach, was very encouraging and believed in us and pulled us together. But it was my Crew Coaches words that echoed in my ears during the race. He was talking to some of the members of the lower boats were lazy. Now... to be lazy and be on a dragon boat... that is one thing. People come from all types of backgrounds.... but on a high school crew team the feeling is different. 

"Some of you aren't trying your hardest, you'll see in the higher boats, boys and girls, that after a race, they can't really talk about it."


Maybe I didn't put full effort into crew, in that I never went to pre-season didn't go to Henley (just to support the team I wasn't good enough to row at that level) and I didn't continue the next season. I switched sports. But some of the excuses were that I was a poor kid from housing projects in a single parent household and my mother was battling all kinds of cancer one of which would take her life a few years later. I didn't have time for to embrace this preppy Groton stuff I was just doing cause I had too, though I did try my hardest.


But paddling on race day, I thought of Adrian Martin, and Coach Niles, and Andrius our steerer who said, "If you are yelling you aren't paddling hard enough." And I thought of Coach Irene when she showed us the proper technique to use your legs and the rotation of your waste the same way you do for white crane Kung Fu actually, but with 6 practices I hadn't quite gotten it yet. 

I thought of all those things and paddled like a mother****** right through the wave that hit the boat when a speed boat zoomed by. I was tired but I kept pushing. 

It was the culmination of team work and 6 fun adventurous practices on the water, some of which were rainy and it felt like we were on some Viking Dragon boat preparing for a raid. 

I felt like I was given a second chance I guess.... and we won!

Going from tent to tent and seeing so many familiar Chinatown faces... it was really a lot of fun and I understood other people's love of this sport. 

CYPN Storm (which I believe is the team pictured in the first photo, was actually the team that won the whole tournament outright, and happens to be coached by the brother of our Coach. 


Watching the awards ceremony with my son sleeping in my lap, on a nice sunny day by the Charles I thought about how positive the whole thing was and how great Chinese Americans (and all their friends... but there is no question that the sport is still a Chinese one) looked so cool as a group here. 

Every stereotype of Long Duk Dong or Fu Manchu was total blown out of the water not only by very athletic paddlers, but all the other ethnic groups and races participating in the festival perfectly willing to follow commands like, "Weigh enough!" or "Sit Ready!" or "Hold water!" when called out by an Asian American. Something which I wouldn't say was impossible at Groton. There were Asian Americans who were very athletic and did crew and Asian American Coxswain's as well.  But in Dragon Boat, the Asians are running the show... and big corporations sponsor boats to paddle and actively support and participate in the festival . 

To use my boat as an example... we were all taking orders from Coach Irene, an Asian woman... and enjoying it. 


(Photo Courtesy of Kristen Paulson-Nguyen)

It was also an opportunity for me to bond with a lot of people I knew who had done Dragon Boat before through their company or a club. Now, although I have a lot of friends who do lion dance and Kung Fu... it seems like Dragon Boat has made it further into the mainstream. Their is less mysticism and it's simply easier to understand. Many cultures have boats, and a race is very easy to understand. Also, the fact that we were able to race after just 6 practices is amazing. It made me think, "Is lion dance and Kung Fu really that hard? Can't it be simplified down as well? After all, there is a lot more to Dragon Boat I haven't uncovered yet too."

I mean there were 75 teams from all over n Boston this year. Teams that PAY to participate. Think about that in terms of Lion Dance and Kung Fu. And furthermore you need 22 people to paddle, a skilled steersperson and a drummer.  A skeleton crew for lion dance (traditionally) is 5. But if you modernized and added music it's two... but then that defeats the whole "work as a team" aspect that is so appealing about Dragon Boat. I mean imagine an event with 75 Lion dance teams. 

If Kung Fu and Lion Dance can culturally move toward what Dragon Boat has developed into in this country I think it would be a good thing. 

The types of teams were very telling. Charlestown High, various Chinatown non profits, banks, corporations.... but also alumni Associations of Chinese American schools and even Chinese Schools. Colleges in Beijing who happen to have enough people in the Boston area that they can form a few boats and race. 

Let's put it this way... of all the things I have to cover on this blog... this restaurant closing, this block being sold.....this festival definitely shows how far Chinese American culture has come. It was a breath of fresh air... or rather, a splash of cold water to the face. 












Saturday, June 10, 2017

Preliminary races

I didn't think I would be so adrenalized for today's races. But I was. As much as it's all about having fun.
In the end Dragon boat is a race. It's a sport. And you do the best you can.
You keep your head in the boat and push to the finish.
And not caring as much about winning made me push harder I think. Maybe it was newness to the sport and to the team. Maybe it was the amazing positive atmosphere. But my experience with school sports was not as fun. Maybe it was because I chose to be there. In any case, I am excited about tomorrow. Thanks to Mandy Chan and his crew and to sponsor Peter My, we should have a nice videoi to put up on the blog soon. But I feel like my first season of Dragon boat has hooked me even more than my first lion dance did.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Freeze BCB!

Watching the BAAFF Short wave competition (somewhat haphazardly because I brought my children with me) I realized I was wrong to put down my camera. I thought I was moving... but now I am not....well not exactly, and I think instead of bringing my Go Pro to places and waiting for things to happen, I should actually work on Narratives.

Or a version of Chinatown "reality TV"

Something between a show and a video.

Boston Chinatown Blog contributor have talked about this before.... after seeing Nicole Tay's video (which won) and also watching some episodes of the Netflix series, "The 80's" I started to see a a history of television... what was groundbreaking before... and where things are headed now.

Nicole Tay's show was a spoof, and I think part of the appeal was that she was a young Asian possibly queer female in a lead role. A heroine saving the day... except again the whole thing was a spoof.

A friend of mine, while filming another spoof, had mentioned, "Why isn't the hero a woman?"

That was ruminating in my head when I saw the  "The 80's" talk about "Cagney and Lacey" a buddy cop show about two women.

And it hit me.

Why not make a You tube show or You tube videos about these two lesbian women who aren't necessarily cops.. they would actually be Boston Chinatown Blog Contributors or maybe .... maybe they would even have badges that said "Boston Chinatown Blog." They would bust down a door and be like, "BCB!" You see you can't exactly do that in real life (or maybe you can and get people's confused as hell reactions.)  But if the whole thing was staged.. that's different. (safer)

But many different types would watch this show for different reasons. There is the whole liberal feel to it, but conservatives would totally watch two hot chicks going around Chinatown too, obviously for different reasons. I mean if you have "Asian Lesbians" in the title you are going to get a lot of hits on the internet. But then the show would actually be about real Chinatown issues. People would be expecting porn, but would get a thought out narrative about the community. Gentrification, domestic abuse, drugs, other sorts of crime, maybe "coming out" to traditional Chinese Parents, the language barrier... whatever.

And the BCB officers wouldn't be cops though. There is a fantasy element to it already even if they were, but they could just be there to somehow help. They should use Kung Fu actually, not so much because it's entertaining, but I would be nervous as hell about anyone flashing a prop gun on the street. That could end with real bullets coming at us. So they should be like Colleen Wing and maybe have traditional Kung Fu weapons. Or something that is obviously unrealistic.

And again the perspective is through these two lesbian women's perspective... but they would be doing Chinatown stuff, which would involve the old generation and very conservative perspectives as well.

It would give the older generation a chance to tell their story about Herng Ha or first coming here or whatever. The show would bridge the future and the past,  the left and the right. But most of all it would have to be entertaining and well edited.

Monday, June 5, 2017

"Ching Chong"


The following story was posted by a friend on Facebook. I think I do have to set the stage though because my friend is very unassuming. An older gentleman that doesn't look threatening.

"Hasn't happened in a long time, but my reaction is still the same: Walking past the Duckboat queue in front of Star Market at the Pru when I hear "ching-chong..." or some such gibberish. Without even thinking, I turn and say in the general direction of the speaker, "What the f@ck did you say?!"
Three late teen, early twenties blonde headed boys with mirrored sunglasses were sitting on the ledge. Obviously tourists. The middle one stutters, "I, uh, buh, didn't, uh..." Louder this time, I say, "The F@CK you say?!" More stuttering. Suddenly I realize there's three of them. I look at the one closest to me; tank-top, tattoos, fairly muscular. I look him straight in his mirrors and he looks away. Nice, I'm in control.
Again to the stutterer, with a finger in his face and a slight whisper, "You better watch your little f'ing mouth next time." I walk away, but make sure to turn around once more with the glare.
Thinking about it later, I probably should have asked where his parents were, because I'm sure they were around. I could've made it a "teachable" moment, but I still think I'm in my twenties and can give (or take) a beating. Oh well, at least I scared the 💩 out of him (them) and I hope they'll think twice before ching-chonging another Chinaman. "                                                                                               



"



One Arrest in Connection to shooting on Hudson Street.

Looks like they have arrested one of the suspects after posting a plea to the public regarding information on the shooting with two pictures.

"Boston Police Homicide Detectives apprehended Ricardo Edwards, Jr, 23, of Boston. Edwards is charged with Murder and will be arraigned tomorrow, Monday, June 5, 2017, at Boston Municipal Court. Detectives continue to seek the public’s help in an effort to locate the second suspect, Greg Wright, 21, of Cambridge, who remains at large. "





Sunday, June 4, 2017

Shooting on Hudson Street

The shooting on Hudson street has been discussed much on social media. Here is a link from the Boston Police Departments website regarding the incident and the ongoing investigation.

Wah Lum opens a branch in Quincy


Wah Lum, which is one of the oldest Kung Fu schools in the Boston area and has branches up and down the east coast has now opened a branch in Quincy 

Friday, June 2, 2017

Chinatown Library Survey

Members of the Boston Chinatown Community. Take a moment to click on these links and fill out these surveys.

The Chinese survey here has questions in Chinese but the answers are in English. That's interesting.

This Survey is in English. Please fill it out and also help your parents or relatives fill it out to give a better sense of what the Chinatown Community wants for a library.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Hei La Moon Parking Garage sold for 40 million

Oxford Properties buys the block for a little under 40 million.

(Photo Credit Courtney Ho of Chinatown Mainstreet)

The Property, (seen in the distance to the left here during a Chinatown clean up) houses Hei La Moon and Mei Tung Supermarket. It could still simply remain the same for years... or perhaps there are other plans. More details to come. (Also please contact me if you know anything else... and also if you have better photos of the property.)



Thursday, May 25, 2017

Ode to Big Mike

I saw recently on facebook that Mike Lowney passed away. Here is a link to the Go Fund Me that his son's Kung Fu brother set up.  This will be a hard time for the family financially as well as emotionally. Please take some time to read and donate on the Go Fund me.


Big Mike was a major part of the Kung Fu world in  Chinatown. He told me that he actually was studying Karate together with Bob Rosen, and that it was Mike that got Bob Rosen (who would later become the head of the Boston Wah Lum School) into Kung Fu in the first place.

Mike had recently shared a story with me about the old days in Chinatown regarding the Firecrackers blowing out the windows of a supermarket.. and why they started holding the fircracker lines further out from the stores. (That story went up on the blog and I will add a link later.)


But to me, Big Mike was mostly a person who came by the school to visit my Sifu, a white guy who spoke Cantonese and Taishanese and had studied countless types of Kung Fu both in Chinatown, Hong Kong, and China. He was well known for his loyalty to his Sifu, which many Chinese saw as uncharacteristic for most American students. He had embraced the Chinese culture full on and even become somewhat of a legend to a generation between mine and his of young Chinese men who took it upon themselves to recount his great exploits to me.

Hong Mao, or Panda, once interrupted my Kung Fu practice to go through a whole litany of how bad ass Big Mike was.


"He would break those big rocks and bricks and walk around carrying a sword like one of those 'dai hup'" a Wuxia Hero. The closest thing to that image in American culture would be a cowboy... and more recently Kung Fu Panda (the first one) makes fun of this image with Po imagining himslef to be the wandering hero. But To many in Chinatown, including Chinese, Big Mike was the real deal.


Well Big Mike leaves behind a wife and son and I hope that Chinatown can be an extended family to them. The old generation and much of the new generation knew and will miss Big Mike. But part of the reason why I decided to write this entry is because I am aware that there is a whole new Chinatown that has arrived in Boston from all over and have good intentions and care about the community, but who may not even know who Big Mike was. I feel that a lot of this newer generation reads the blog and I just thought it would be good for them to hear the little that I knew about who he was.

Members of the community we have lost

It is natural that every year we lose members of our community to sickness age, and in more tragic circumstances, violence and accidents. 

However,  can't help but realize the fragility and I guess familial closeness of Chinatown when people pass away. In some ways Chinatown is really a small town or a village. Or a school. It is still quite tight knit. 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Crew vs. Dragon Boat

Since the season I did crew in high school, I have always wanted to try Dragon Boat, and this year I have the opportunity to be on the AACA (Asian American Civic Association) 's team "Blazin Paddles."

Some people will think that if you do crew, you can do Dragon boat... but the muscle groups are different. and the paddles are different too. What is the same is the idea of team work. Also I feel like the Dragon Boats paddles and boat are so simple, that I almost feel like I could make a crude paddle and a crude boat even... where as the crew boats (which cost like $30,000) seem very complicated to make. I mean a Dragon Boat is basically a canoe.


I showed up to the first practice and saw that some people even brought their own paddles.

"How much are those?" I asked

"There like $100." I mean that's not cheap.. but they are lightweight... a far cry from the wooden paddles. But I found out later that we all got to use the fancy light weight paddles anyway.

I am not likely to buy one, but my Kung Fu side really like the idea of people carrying their paddle like a samurai sword around. And I immediately wanted to do Kung Fu moves for a short paddle.

My first day.. I think crew actually hindered me because I was trying to feather the oar and all that when I really should have been keeping the oar vertical the whole time. You also take the oar out at mid thigh. The second practice we began to move a little bit more as a team.

I guess I also can't help but compare progress to that high school team where even our slackiest members were still young and we all practiced everyday. Groton was actually competitive at crew so even though I was on the last boat... it was still kind of serious.

But I really enjoy this sport because unlike Kung Fu, or lion dance, where a lot of the technique is somewhat theory or ritual... if you don't paddle... the boat doesn't move. There is beauty in the simplicity of the practice.... to make the boat go. And the competition as well... it's a simple race.

We haven't been drumming and there is no flag catcher in the Boston Dragon Boat and you can see how the sport is changing with the times or trying to go back to the traditional way as well.

Most amazing though, is to see Coach Irene, an Asian female, coaching and calling out orders to a boat that has Asians and none Asians. Why is this significant to me? Well you see at Groton, although asians did crew... well it;s not the same as having strong Chinese Americans figures in charge of the whole sport and also being very AMERICAN in their lingo and cadence. If I had had those sorts of role models in my youth I might have a different outlook. Even now in my 30's it is somewhat eye opening... or broadening.

I'm looking forward to the future practices and hope to remain involved in Dragon boat after I move to New Jersey.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Jessica Tang and the "Greater Chinatown Community"

Everyone knows I've been kind of checked out since I will soon be moving to New Jersey. But I picked up a newspaper with the headline being something like, "Jessica Tang to be new leader of the BTU" and the Globe is saying not only is she the first Chinese American but the first person of color and the first woman in decades. She is also part of the LGBTQ community.

Boston is changing


And this post is not a call to action to throw your support behind her in an upcoming election so much as it is to let the community know about someone who can be a resource for us... because she is running unopposed. She's got it already.


Also, in terms of the Chinatown community, she has been involved since her college years at Harvard. Which taught me something. For cheap lion dance snubbing from Harvard, you can't forget about the Jessica Tang's who come into Boston and immediately get involved and stand up for the Community working with the CPA and people like Lydia Lowe, Karen Chen, and Giles Li.

"I've known Giles like forever," Jessica laughed, "Or at least we've worked together for the last 10 years."

Giles, who commented on one of my Facebook announcements that I would be moving to New Jersey with a "???????" made me realize that I have become somewhat important enough in Chinatown to be missed if I leave.

But Jessica validated the belief that  Chinatown is more of a base for a broader cultural community than just a brick and mortar neighborhood. When she came here for Harvard, it doesn't matter that she didn't grow up here, she saw it as her community too and started getting involved to protest gentrification right away.

Now this blog has many perspectives on that particular issue, but the point is, while talking to Lydia Lowe about tapping into that broader power base of people who grow up in Chinatown, become successful and then move out, people like Jessica show that they just need a space to get involved, and if you build it they will come.

"Chinatown is a place where we can celebrate and be with our community and support each other." 



Bostonians may move out to Colorado or California but they get involved in the broader Chinese and Asian communities there, whether it is in activism lion dance or dragon boat or whatever.

Because Chinatown is more than just a gate a restaurant and a community center. It is a way for immigrants and abc's to stay in touch with their community.

As Jessica said in our interview "Chinatown is a place where we can celebrate and be with our community and support each other."

In other words, working together as a community, Chinatown as an idea is a sleeping Dragon whose potential for political, social, and economic power has yet to be awakened.


I asked Jessica to explain what her role as president of the Boston Teacher's Union would be, or even what the role of the union was in the first place. I brazenly through my ignorance on the table because frankly, it's not even like I don't pay attention. My kids are in BPS (for the remainder of the year) and I went to BPS through the 4th grade. I knew that the BTU had a lot of strikes... I learned of all the obstacles I had in trying to make my school more culturally Chinese by trying to volunteer my Kung Fu and Lion Dance. I mean it's not like I wasn't allowed, but here I was offering something for free and trying to organize a way to make our local school something more than just a school and I have to jump through hoops. So I stopped.

Talking with other parents I didn't get the feeling like the BTU was this wonderful thing.

But Jessica said that is part of the reason why she was running. To change the image and to educate.


Chinatown as an idea is a sleeping Dragon whose potential for political, social, and economic power has yet to be awakened.  



"Unions are the reason why we have the weekends off, or why you can't get fired for having children." Jessica told me, "and you don't really learn about Unions in school necessarily. I mean I'm not from a union family..."

But this isn't that Asians aren't involved in unions, but rarely are they leaders on this coast. On the west coast there are more Asian Union leaders and honestly, many friends were surprised while traveling to the West Coast to see that many Asians had these union type jobs that on the East coast would be done by other ethnic groups or races. You can literally SEE a difference.


"I may be the only Asian American Union leader in the State" Jessica mentioned to me, speaking of Massachusetts. And she is the leader of a union that is in charge of all of our children's education, something which Chinese families in particular tend to value very highly.


Stereo typically, and this I guess is more true in the past, while Chinese value education highly, many immigrant families don't feel that they have a voice in the system, especially if they don't speak the language. They force their kids to do well. But they don't necessarily want t make waves.

Of course CPA is an exception to this, but for all the stories about success of Asians in the school system, let's not forget about what busing meant to new immigrants at Charlestown High, or some of the events in the 90's at Boston Latin or the older generations at Brighton High where large groups of Asians showed up in support or to watch a school fight. Remember that before the large influx of wealthy Chinese students almost every large gathering of Asians was reported as gang related in Boston's newspapers.

When really it was a result of how race and cultural issues were being handled by the school and the administrators. How they were being hired by the teachers.

If you had support from teachers, you wouldn't feel that you would have to go to a "gang" And I will not say "Join" a gang because often some of these support groups whose members were all Asian or AZN were created from scratch, again as a result of the school system lack of concern for their safety.

And these "Gangsters" if one would believe the Herald's or the Globe's reporting in the 90's are largely in the Finance and Tech industries, successful white collar Bostonians, whose kids may or may not be in BPS, whose buying power and intellect really help the city run.... but whose contributions and concerns are still largely glossed over. Whose families are also still at least a notch more conservative in terms of LGBTQ issues and whose children might need some support from outside of their family.


So is it significant that in 2017 the Boston Teacher's Union President is now going to be Jessica Tang, a Chinese American woman who is also part of the LGBTQ community?

Yeah actually it's a pretty big deal.




Thursday, May 11, 2017

An insiders view on the MMA vs. Tai Chi Fight


So I know that I already wrote about this, but while eating at Jumbo's in Boston's Chinatown witrh friends..... it turned out that I actually know someone who studied under Xu Xiaodong, the MMA/Sanda fighter in this 10 second duel that went viral.


We had Fu gwa and gai peen (the bitter melon and chicken slices) and also some sort of Chinese burrito type thing that was good but I had no idea how to order it. I kind of wanted to see what these guys would order because I notice that everyone has their own ordering habits. 


So we were talking about traditional vs. modern martial arts and as a traditional martial artists, (who frankly has done okay in fights and boxing etc. Not overwhelming amazing, but not embarrassingly horrible either) I have a lot to say about some of the notions that immediately will come up just from the idea of what this fight is about. In fact a lot of my friends who don't even practice Martial Arts and aren't even Chinese will immediately be saddened by what just happened. 

Xu Xiadong's student gave some clearer insight though. First off, let's talk about training.

"One of the first things we did as beginners was all the beginner students would line up on one side and the experienced students line up on the other. The experienced students will then punch the beginners and the beginners don't even punch, they just have to focus on blocking" He demonstrated the boxer's guard and also explained when studying MMA with Xu that they all learned boxing frist, as a sort of base, "To be honest in the beginning I could not even keep my eyes open and they had to tell me on focusing to keep my eyes open to watch what your opponent is throwing at you."


The first thought was, "wow that's actually a good method. Though I can't exactly imagine employing that with students (children) here in the US. But with my own kids... I have actually done similar training. Obviously I wasn't trying to hit my own kid full force... but I bet the same is true of the experienced students. They have control. 

Interestingly at the school where I learned Kung Fu we would usually do the opposite. Beginners would throw all the punches at experienced students and the experienced students would just indicate openings with slaps etc. I like the idea behind Xu's training... but I never saw anything like that in an American Boxing gym. And I think when teaching kids I might opt for some sort of slap boxing instead. But there is something very powerful about having to first learn how to defendand I beleiec this training method will get enable you to learn the martial art very quickly. It is safer if you are just doing it in a boxing way and not say, using the same sort of philosophy with Bak Mei type strikes you know? With White Crane strikes... actually like a said we did do something similar. But your guard would have to move to counter the pows and cups and honestly if that was the first thing you did.... it might be discouraging but it's worth researching.


"I think we were the first group in China to do MMA and we had an interesting experiment. We tried to have all sorts of martial artists" Combat sports, "studying for the same amount of time to fight with MMA rules. The worst one, surprisingly was Tae Kwan Do. Because when they clenched it was over. Boxing Wrestling Judo and Sand Da people all did about the same."

I asked him about the whole "All Tai Chi sucks" type statements.

"Those were angry words... but what actually happened was Xu was supposed to meet with a Tai Chi Master to talk about (debate) how Tai Chi didn't work on the street. But then they did not agree and they were supposed to meet again and fight. But the Tai Chi Master didn't show up. Instead, he posted Xu's personal information online. His phone number and his address. Then after receiving many threatening letters and calls and e-mails telling him he sucks as a person he went off and starting saying Tai Chi and even all of Kung Fu is no good. At that point many people did not support him because it was like he was  insulting Chinese Culture."

The point here is that the video makes it look like Xu is picking on Traditional martial arts. I think it is important to note that he was cyber bullied first. 

As a traditional practitioner (that is always changing things not so much to adapt to the "street" but to the situation.) I actually see MMA and simply a continuation of a tradition. These type of exchanges may actually improve traditional modern Tai Chi honestly. That is to say... Tai Chi Practitioners (and Kung Fu practitioners in general) in the past had to fight more. When you are fighting all the time... you don't necessarily have to do fighting drills. My mother grew up in the 50's in the states and she fought people all the time in her Catholic girls school. Now.. it is true maybe she did not have a good boxing guard either, but she was in bloody head banging against concrete type of fights. She went on to do Kendo in Japan, which she loved, because you could "beat the shit out of each other and nobody got hurt" she never got that great at it. But I just want to show that her Martial Arts, never actually helped her on the street either. In fact as she traveled around the world and got into many dangerous situations she never fought her way out as an adult according to her stories. 

Two instances she recounted were diving off a cliff in Iraq because they were shooting. The moral of that story was not to dive because she later heard of others diving there and hitting their heads on rocks. And bribing child soldiers holding machine guns in Laos with cigarettes. The gift meant that they didn't shoot her right there. (she's white btw, and in those countries.. she always said she was Canadian.)


One final thing she said to me in regards to fighting was this quote from my grandfather, "Don't be a fighter. Once people know that you are a fighter... then everyone will want to fight you."

Some would say Xu is in this predicament now. However, maybe that is a good thing in his case. More fights that are going viral might be good for business. I didn't know who he was before this 10 second duel. Now he might as well be up there with Bruce Lee for his 15 minutes of fame. Can he get a show or perhaps a match in the UFC out of it? Anyway who knows. 

I am not as saddened by the fact that the Tai Chi guy lost and I also do Tai Chi like practices. I will probably continue to teach my Tai Chi like stuff even more than my other forms (up there with this Stick form/game that my Sifu actually hated but is quick for kids to pick up) because its what people want. Ex- Soldiers, gangsters, people with violent pasts... they love the idea of sparringt and fighting, yes... but honestly, they always also ask me about Tai Chi. Tai Chi isn't going anywhere. 

As far as MMA is concerned, catch wrestling, boxing and wrestling, just plain fighting... has been around and it isn't going anywhere either. The names seem to change though. What is now called MMA would have been called ALL of the different names for other martial arts in the past from Kung Fu, Wushu, Boxing, and wrestling to you name it. There are no sticks or sword yet in MMA though, nor are there teams of fighters going at the same time... more like football, whcih if you think about it, might be pretty interesting to watch. 


Let's not worry so much about feeling bad and focus more on constantly learning and changing as teachers and students of the martial arts shall we?




Friday, May 5, 2017

On Current Healthcare Legislation

While Facebook shows many posts with approval or outrage regarding the current healthcare legislative battle, these are often one-off responses and partial opinions. It’s hard to make out what the actual rule changes are, behind the loud bickering and resentments between Republicans and Democrats. I want to talk about what’s being changed, and how it may affect citizens.

The Affordable Care Act mandated that everyone must have healthcare, and those who don’t needed to pay a tax penalty. To avoid the tax penalty, over 20 million Americans got health insurance.

The new American Health Care Act would do away with Medicaid. Google defines Medicaid as “Medicaid is a health care program that assists low-income families or individuals in paying for long-term medical and custodial care costs. Medicaid is a joint program, funded primarily by the federal government and run at the state level, where coverage may vary.” Long-term care include pre-existing conditions - illnesses people are born with, like my genetically activated polycystic kidney disease, for example. Custodial care involves patients who need a caretaker, like senior homes and similar programs.

The Affordable Care Act offered subsidized insurance policies, which means that government will help pay for health insurance for those who can’t pay themselves. The new laws offer tax credits of $2000 to $4000 a year - depending on age, which means that the government gives people this amount of tax dollars to pay for health insurance. This amount is actually tiny compared to the amount of money necessary to maintain care for people with pre-existing conditions or who need to stay somewhere other than home for their care.

New York Times writes, “A family could receive up to $14,000 a year in credits. The credits would be reduced for individuals making over $75,000 a year and families making over $150,000,” but this doesn’t define how large the family is, or how many of those people have pre-existing conditions, or need other long term care. American Cancer Society and AARP in oppose the repeal bill.

“States would receive an allotment of federal money for each beneficiary, or, as an alternative, they could take the money in a lump sum as a block grant, with fewer federal requirements. The bill would also repeal taxes imposed by the Affordable Care Act on high-income people, insurers and drug companies, among others. And it would cut off federal funds from Planned Parenthood for one year.”

This means, the federal government would give each state an amount of money depending on how many sick people it has, but since there are fewer rules to go with that money, the money may never get to the sick people. Rich people, insurance and drug companies all get tax cuts. Planned Parenthood gets no money for a year.


Readers can and should call their local representatives to pressure them to vote in the best interests of the readers. Readers in Boston specifically - Michelle Wu is up for re-election as President of the City Council. She is for paid parental leave and healthcare equity: http://www.jamaicaplainnews.com/2015/10/27/qa-michelle-wu-paid-parental-leave-healthcare-equity-and-accessible-city-services/14797. Please read up on the rest of her platform: http://michelleforboston.com/welcome/accomplishments/ . If her platform is to your liking, please also help her gather votes to keep her current position; she needs 1,500 local votes to be put on the ballot again.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Ghost in the Shell - Review

The first time I had read the manga and saw the original Ghost in the Shell movie, I was in college. It was part of a curriculum in a class about anime. We had a debate about whether Major was a woman, and at that time, I said no, it is a robot. When I heard that Hollywood is remaking the Ghost in the Shell movie, I was curious, because my interest in anime and manga continues.

I went to watch the remake with the awareness of the controversy around it, about casting Scarlett Johannsen over an Asian American actress. Since I was also from the original fan base interested in anime, I have a mental comparison of this new movie with the original media, the manga and the anime movies. It was barely like the original, because when an animated story turns into live action, storylines get condensed and CGI takes place of the animation.

My general feeling from the movie was it was trying to tackle too many themes at once, so each theme wasn’t given the attention it deserved. The way these ideas were handled were very blunt, without any nuance. SPOILERS!!

If this is supposed to be an Asian country, then why is the robot white? This may be a product of both Westernization and globalization, where lighter colored skin and wider eyes became standards of beauty. In reality, there is the cosmetic surgery industry where people buy double eyelids and receive breast implants. Getting a robot body is also lifesaving surgery, even though she has to take shots to prevent her brain from rejecting her body.

While the movie itself dealt with identity politics, it’s on a different field than most political debates. Major struggles with whether she is still human, since her body is robotic, and doctor visits feel like a car being fixed in a shop while the machinist becomes her therapist. Hollywood tries to argue that a robot body transcends race, and Scarlett Johannsen had comparable roles in Lost in Translation and Under the Skin.

However, it’s still a white robot - it has issues the same way that Barbie only represents blond blue eyed white girls and not girls with any other features or skin color. Hollywood could have tried discovering a Japanese American actress with acting experiences as a soldier or a character from an action horror film, since this movie has elements of both.

I had other issues with the science fiction part of the movie, but this is more due to my background in computer networking and studies in network security. The idea of cerebral hacking as a crime is fascinating, partially because it’s a society so mechanized that people’s brains are networked. A computer cannot be hacked if it’s never connected with other computers, and if it’s never on the internet. Also, if there’s antivirus and firewalls for computers, why wouldn’t these safeguards be created for people’s networked brains?

The movie didn’t like Asian women. There was the original Major, who was an Asian actress, but her part was so small that no one remembers her. There was also Major’s mother, who spoke in accented English. Those scenes with the mother should have been so much more emotional, but Hollywood may say that Major’s currently an android now, and can’t cry. She should still be able to cry coolant and machine oil - her robot eyes still need both cooling and lubrication. The other Asian characters were all Asian men. Why was the handler permitted to speak Japanese through the whole movie, but the mother had to have accented English? The streets of the city also didn’t have a lot of Asian people. Feels like cultural appropriation.

The other android, the prototype, was also modeled after a white guy. Mostly, during the scenes with the prototype, and later, with Theo, the lighting was too dark. I wouldn’t have been able to understand either the action or the dialogue if I didn’t read the original manga and seen the original animated movies. While Hollywood correctly assumed that many people from the original fan base would come see this movie out of curiosity, they didn’t elaborate enough for people who weren’t part of the original fan base. That may be a balancing act that adaptations cannot excel at.


Hollywood tried its best, but I can fully understand the movie losing out. I give it 2 stars out of 5, but would understand someone giving it a 1 star.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Dragon Boat Social


Kung Fu Dad: Kung Fu and Music Teacher

Kung Fu Dad: Kung Fu and Music Teacher: Well now that I am leaving, the two preschools where I teach Kung Fu are looking for someone to come in to replace me. This is actually more...

Monday, April 24, 2017

Old letter translated

Dear fourth brother Po Yu:

How time flies, one year past by. Last year I received your letter and US$500 thank you again, I've been busy in this coming year so I write the letter to you till today.(the fifth day after Chinese lunar new year) I hope you have a happy new year and make a fortune.

Now Hong Kong is changed a lot, because of inflation, everything is so expensive, it is hard make a living here. I hope you can catch the chance in the US and then make a fortune, have a good life.


The fifth sister Po Ju wrote me a letter from Guang zhou (Guang dong Providence ). We didn't see each other for 30 years, she also missed you so much, and I told her now you are in the US. She want to see me again in Guang Zhou, but now I think it is hard to go there. After 15th this month, I will be not so busy, then I could write a detail letter to you, hope you are healthy, regards uncle Ji and he's family.


1980. 2/20(the fifth day from lunar new year)
third brother Po ?

Sunday, April 23, 2017

The March for Science

The March for Science was yesterday, April 22, 2017, in many major cities across the country. Boston had one too, and it started in the Boston Common, which is right next to Chinatown - literally a stone’s throw away. Essex Street turns into Boylston Street heading west, and Boylston Street is where Boylston Station on the Green Line and the Boston Common Theater are. Many major events that Bostonians care about happen here.

In this way, many residents of Chinatown are able to be involved with the city’s events. It also helps that Chinatown is right next to Downtown Crossing and the financial district, the economic heart of Boston. This strategic location of Chinatown isn’t through luck. Chinese immigrants of past decades fought to be here. This is why the gentrification of Chinatown is a real issue. The Trump administration’s attack on science is also a real issue.

Trump appointed Scott Pruit to be the administrator of the Environment Protection Agency, who happens to be a climate change denier. He denies that humanity has had an adverse impact on planet Earth, that our use of plastics and pesticides is causing global warming, even though theories regarding pollution have been proven time and again through research. Trump is also slashing funding for the EPA, believes the climate change has no cost, fired and stopped hiring scientists, and changed the rules of scientific testing and analyses to ignore pollution.

Environmental policy should be important to everyone who drinks water and breathes air - that is, all of humanity, regardless of any other differences. Boston is a diverse and relatively green city. In 2012, Boston installed over 400 BigBelly trash and recycling receptacles, simple machines that use solar power to compress waste to be recycled or dumped. A handful of them are on the streets of Chinatown. In 2013, the Cleanup Chinatown Mission was formed in association with the Asian American Civic Association to help take care of the litter problem, which resulted in a much better environment in Boston Chinatown.

If you think about the way it takes this much effort to clean up just one neighborhood, then it should be clear that Trump’s ignoring science and changing the rules the way he’s been doing are really damaging to the environment all over the country. Whether you attended the March for Science or not, I encourage you to donate to organizations that are related to the sciences if you are able. Their site is marchforscienceboston.com. My opinion is that science should be used to better human lifestyles, such as for the environment, for medicine, and for benevolent technology, instead of being used for military conflict.


The March for Science was well attended. This shows how many people care, which is awesome. Boston is also a very scientific city, full of hospitals and universities which do research in various fields. Recently, both Bill Nye and Neil Degrasse Tyson have been speaking extensively for science. Some creative signs from the March were “Got plague? Me neither. Thanks science!” and “There is NO Planet B”. The Trump administration’s attack on the sciences affects all Americans. We should all get involved.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Old Letters

Packing up means that I am looking through old pictures and trying to consolidate. Honestly I should have taken the opportunity to scan everything but t is very time consuming. In any case I did come across some letters. Here was one that was by itself. But later I found a whole freaking box, and even one in English from a cousin in Hong Kong, who my mother had semi-talked about... but that would be interesting to explore since they would probably have Facebook or some form of social media which would make it easier to contact them or find them. 
Mostly I'm posting the Chinese ones to see if anyone knows how to read it. 
I'll fix the images later.